As another fiery Writers Guild of America West election gets under way, presidential candidates Carl Gottlieb and Brad Radnitz are sounding more like old-time pols currying valuable votes than like showbiz scripters.
Gottlieb and Radnitz are on opposite sides of the controversial credits-manual issue that has divided the guild and likely will dominate the vote.
Gottlieb has been WGAW veepee since 1991 and a board member for a decade before that. Radnitz, a longtime guild activist, has served on four boards of directors, including the present one, and nine negotiating committees over the years.
“It’s kind of a contest between the old guard and the middle guard, with the young Turks not being represented,” Gottlieb said. “I see myself as the middle guard. My concern is that he’s (Radnitz) an old-guard kind of trade unionist whose years of guild experience have been on strikes and negotiating committees. I think it gives him a confrontational view that’s going to make achieving our goals difficult.”
Radnitz, meanwhile, points to his 30 years of experience on any number of boards and committees, and implies that the current administration (of which Gottlieb has been a member since 1991) has divided the membership. He also says he was the one who came up with the conflict-resolving Contract Adjustment Committee.
“I can’t hide from the fact that there is a growing sense of alienation in the membership,” Radnitz said. “I think that what we need right now is a president who can coalesce these diverse entities within the guild.”
Ballots went out last week for the vote on president, VP, secretary-treasurer and eight seats on the board of directors. And as with all WGAW elections in the last 60 years, every seat is hotly contested.
The credits issue threatens to divide voters and possibly the entire guild membership even after the election.
The recent revision of the credits manual – the first major alteration in 60 years – increases the number of writers who can get credit for a film from three to four. In addition, the minimum contribution requirement for screen credit will be lowered from 33% to 25%.
Gottlieb said he supports the work of the committee that spent five years revising the manual.
“It supports everybody who makes a significant contribution to a script and doesn’t overly protect the first writer,” he said.
Radnitz argues that the revisions “dilute our own credit. What I’m saying is that the proposed revisions need further revisions themselves. We must find a way to separate these changes so that they can be voted on individually.”
Gottlieb argues that he has experience in the prexy office. Current prexy Frank Pierson has been on location with several film projects over the last two years, which left Gottlieb in an acting prexy capacity for numerous meetings and issues.
Radnitz fires back that Gottlieb is not concerned about some key issues, such as the non-network rate payments for TV scripters. In the last negotiation, the WGA raised rates for the Fox weblet, but only minimally.
“We settled for 50¢s; on the dollar, going up to 60¢s; on the dollar by the end of the contract. I’m not satisfied with that and neither is the membership,” said Radnitz.
Gottlieb and Radnitz find themselves aligned on the contentious possessory credits issue, which is being investigated by a joint committee with the Directors Guild of America.
Both feel the “A film by…” credits should not be awarded to so many helmers, especially first-timers.
Radnitz said he supports the idea of the WGAW asking for an additional credit for every credit the Directors Guild gets.
So if a helmer received two or three credits in various forms (such as “A film by…” or “A So-and-So film”), the writer would receive an equal number.