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WGA enlists aid of PR pair

Democratic political consultants to help effort

The Writers Guild of America has retained veteran Democratic political consultants Bill Carrick and Kam Kuwata to provide assistance on the strategic and PR fronts of the 8-week-old strike.

“We both have friends in the WGA,” Kuwata told Daily Variety. “And we have landed a lot of times on the sides that are pro-labor.”

The duo came aboard earlier this month at the guild’s behest in the wake of the Dec. 7 collapse of negotiations between the WGA and the AMPTP, which insisted that the guild remove half a dozen proposals from the table as a condition of continuing to bargain. The WGA refused, and no new talks have been scheduled, while the Directors Guild of America is widely expected to set a start date for negotiations on its contract within the next week.

Kuwata said he and Carrick will work for the WGA for as long as needed.

In their first major task for the WGA, Carrick and Kuwata helped organize the guild’s participation in the well-publicized Dec. 19 hearing at Los Angeles City Hall on the economic impact of the work stoppage.

The WGA’s been touting the fact that recent polls show the general public backing writers, such as last week’s USA Today/Gallup poll showing 60% support among respondents. Kuwata said that he’s seeing similar levels of public support in informal gatherings, such as his own family’s holiday dinner.

For its part, the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers brought on political consultants Mark Fabiani and Chris Lehane a month ago as part of a reshuffling of the PR duties by the congloms. Since then, the AMPTP’s become more active and assertive in its portrayal of its side of the battle with the guild — such as responding to the USA Today/Gallup poll by posting a TNS survey that found the strike has made no impact on the viewing habits of 74% of respondents and that almost two-thirds don’t have a side in the WGA-AMPTP fight.

Carrick oversaw the campaign of former Los Angeles mayor James Hahn against current Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the gubernatorial campaign of Treasurer Phil Angelides against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Past clients include Attorney General Bill Lockyer and superintendent of public instruction Jack O’Connell.

Kuwata worked with Carrick on the Hahn race and has long been a top political adviser to Sen. Diane Feinstein, having run her 1992 and 1994 campaigns.

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