Guild offers coin from Foreign Levies Program

The Writers Guild of America West is contributing $977,095 to the Actors Fund from undistributable funds held by the WGAW’s Foreign Levies Program.

The WGA West said Thursday it has distributed over $121 million to writers and their heirs but that some funds cannot be distributed because they are not designated for a known project or writer.

The distribution is part of the 2010 settlement of a 2005 class action suit filed by William Richert.

“The parties agreed that, once reasonable efforts to distribute the money had been exhausted, these funds would be donated to the Actors Fund,” the guild said. “The Foreign Levies Program will likely generate an ongoing stream of undistributable funds, and the guild looks forward to making additional charitable contributions in the future.”

The WGA had announced in March that it had collected nearly $130 million in foreign levies from 19 countries over the past two decades. Investment interest collected from the funds over the two decades totaled $8.95 million; $7.65 million of that had been transferred to the WGA West general fund to offset the costs of administering the program with administrative fees, which amount to 5% of what’s been transmitted to the writers since 2004.

Richert’s suit alleged that the WGA had not properly handled foreign funds due scribes as compensation for telecasts and other exhibition of writers’ works. The 2010 settlement required the WGA to pursue “best efforts” to pay all foreign funds within three years and issue a report by a Big Four accounting firm to review the foreign levies from their inception in the early 1990s.

In a court hearing last month, Richert complained about the lack of disclosure in the wake of the settlement, signed by the now-retired Judge Carl West. Superior Court Judge John Wiley responded that terms of the settlements prevented him from requiring the guilds to do more than they already have in the foreign levies cases against the WGA, the Directors Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild.

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