WGAW nixes delay on credits-change vote

Contentious changes in the Writers Guild of America West credits manual will remain in place for a full membership vote Nov. 1, the guild’s board of directors decided in secret balloting last week.

A motion to postpone the vote on credits revision was debated in a confidential session Sept. 11, with the candidates for the prexy position – current veepee Carl Gottlieb and board member Brad Radnitz – landing on opposite sides. Many inside the guild feel the issue could play a major role in the upcoming prexy elections.

The credits furor has been one of the lengthiest debates for the guild, with various board members and office-seekers taking opposed views. The vote now goes before the WGAW’s 8,000-plus voting members.

The manual – which establishes rules for assigning official credit to screenplays and TV scripts – has not undergone change since its 1942 inception.

But for the last five years, a committee has investigated potential alterations. Last spring, the committee turned in a full set of revisions that was the basis for the upcoming Nov. 1 vote by the membership.

Supporters of the postponement wanted more time to restructure revisions, such as one that allows a screenwriter to receive credit for scripting only 25% of a movie. The guild percentage to receive a writer credit has long been 33% and many writers claim the reduction will make it too easy for directors and others to lay claim to authorship.

Sources said the postponement was voted down by a 10-6 board vote.

Radnitz, who authored and voted for the motion to postpone, said he supports many of the changes but wants the membership to have some veto power.

“The mistake they (the credits manual committee) made is asking the membership to vote on it totally and not breaking it up to allow them to vote on specific areas of major concern,” Radnitz said.

He added that a confidential survey was taken of 500 WGAW members two years ago and showed that 57% of the members were against revisions to the manual. Only 29% were behind the idea.

On the flip side, Gottlieb lauded the committee for its five years of work on the manual.

Gottlieb said he doesn’t fully agree with all revisions, but he supports the committee and is against “derailing the process.”

Board members who voted against the postponement included Gottlieb, Katherine Coker, Jonathan Estrin, Terry Curtis Fox, Millard Kaufman, Larry Konner, Peter Lefcourt, Daryl Nickens, Joan Owens and Gregory Strangis.

Voting for the postponement were Radnitz, veepee candidate Daniel Petrie Jr., Don Mankiewicz, Deborah Pratt, John Riley and Lynn Roth.

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