WGA East says ‘no disrespect’ in announcing winners early

'Zero Dark Thirty' scribe Mark Boal said announcement gave him time to refine sppech

“No disrespect intended” is the response from the Writers Guild of America East for spoiling the surprises.

The guild’s screenplay award winners were announced in New York a full hour before the WGA West unveiled them Sunday night in Los Angeles. The events are supposed to run simultaneously, leading to the West Coast version launching with cocktails at 4 p.m., dinner at 5 p.m. and the show at 6 p.m.

But many ceremony attendees in Los Angeles were aware that Chris Terrio had won the adapted screenplay trophy for “Argo” and Mark Boal for original screenplay for “Zero Dark Thirty” — including Boal, who expressed his lack of surprise at the podium.

“Thanks to Twitter I knew this was going to happen about 5 minutes ago,” Boal said.

Per the WGA, don’t expect that to happen again.

“We’re aware of this and we’re going to work something out,” WGA East president Michael Winship told Variety.

At last year’s events, screenplay winners (Woody Allen for “Midnight in Paris”; Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash for “The Descendants”) were announced earlier in New York — but only by a few minutes. Winship declined to elaborate on how the announcements could be better synched up. He denied speculation that the WGA East was using the awards show to expresss any dissatisfaction with the WGA West.

“That’s absolutely ridiculous,” Winship asserted.

The WGA West reps about 8,000 members and the WGA East has about 4,000. The branches went to war in 2005, with the West demanding that screenwriters hold dual membership in both guilds and that half their dues be sent west, based on provisions in the guild’s 1954 constitution and the affiliation agreement; the WGA East accused its Western sibling of union-busting and sued the Western branch for refusing to engage in mediation, triggering a countersuit by WGAW to force arbitration.

The matter was settled later that year by WGA West president Patric Verrone and WGA East president Chris Albers.

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