Mangan’s exit could unite WGA

Bad blood a roadblock between two branches

Are those wedding bells we’re hearing for the two branches of the WGA?

The two arms, which rep more than 12,000 writers, probably won’t be sending out engraved invitations anytime soon, but the Aug. 30 announcement of the pending retirement of WGA East exec director Mona Mangan sparked immediate speculation that a major roadblock had been removed to combining the New York-based East with the Hollywood-based West.

Officially, the WGA East has said no way via spokeswoman Sherry Goldman: “We are a separate guild and Mona’s retirement isn’t going to change that.”

Unofficially, however, many have long wondered why writers need to be repped through separate branches — particularly when firefights flare over jurisdiction and strategy, such as two years ago when the two branches actually sued each other before working out a compromise.

The two-branch structure dates back to the early years of the WGA, when New York was the center of the TV business, but such an arrangement strikes some observers as antiquated, and even “beyond moronic,” according to former WGA West board Craig Mazin.

In a posting on his blog at artfulwriter.com, Mazin suggested that Mangan stayed in power by preventing any move toward a merger.

“Our current arrangement is a disaster,” he adds. “Everyone knows it. And the solution is painfully obvious. Now that Mona is leaving, I believe there’s a chance the painfully obvious can become joyously real.”

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