Writers Guild vets to square off for presidency

Patric Verrone will face off against Christopher Keyser for the presidency of the Writers Guild of America West as Verrone seeks to reoccupy the office he held from 2005-09.

The return of Verrone — who presided over the guild during the 100-day writers strike of 2007-08 — will likely rekindle debate over how aggressive the guild might be during the coming two years, even though the WGA’s contract with the studios doesn’t expire until May 2014.

Verrone was prevented in 2009 by WGA West rules from seeking a third term as president and ran instead for the board, garnering the most votesof any candidate. He offers a stark contrast to the style of current WGA president John Wells, who’s opted not to seek re-election after a term that’s been dominated by a moderate, low-key approach.

Keyser ran unsuccesfully two years ago as part of Wells’ ticket for the secretary-treasurer post against Verrone ally David Weiss in a campaign in which he stressed his pragamatism along with his experience as a trustee on the guild-industry pension and health fund board.

Keyser, who won a board seat last year, is known for writing and exec producing “Party of Five.”

Verrone and Keyser sought to downplay the instant chatter about WGA factions by issuing a joint statement late Tuesday: “We look forward to waging a positive campaign; discussing the issues and concerns affecting our fellow members; and developing solutions to the problems facing all writers.”

The WGA West announced 23 candidates Tuesday that have been approved by its nominating committee for its three officer and eight board of director posts. Members can still run via petition with a July 22 deadline for filing.

Board member Howard A. Rodman and John Aboud — known for being active with the United Hollywood website during the strike — are running for VP. Current VP Tom Schulman has opted out of seeking re-election.

Weiss is running for re-election as secretary-treasurer against Carl Gottlieb, best known for adapting “Jaws.” That’s a rematch of the 2005 race for VP, in which Weiss succesfully ran as part of Verrone’s Writers United slate against Gottlieb, who was the incumbent and part of Ted Elliott’s Common Sense slate.

Incumbents Linda Burstyn, Ian Deitchman, Carleton Eastlake, Bill Ray and Dan Wilcox are running for the eight open board seats along with 13 other candidates — Anthony Sparks, Michael Oates Palmer, Thania St. John, Ari B. Rubin, Nelson Soler, Mark Alton Brown, David S. Goyer, Barbara E. Nance, Alfredo Barrios Jr., John Brancato, Nell Scovell and Jay Kogen. Current board members Chip Johannessen and Steven Schwartz aren’t running for re-election.

Should Verrone win the presidency again, he’d be the fifth former WGA West president to return to the post after an absence. The four who previously accomplished that feat are Wells (who served his first term in 1999-2001), Frank Pierson, Melville Shavelson and Daniel Petrie Jr.

The WGA West will hold its Candidates Night town-hall forum on Aug. 31 at its headquarters and announce results on Sept. 16.

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