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Writers Guild Taps Billy Ray, Chip Johannessen, Chris Keyser to Head Negotiations

The Writers Guild of America has named prominent writers Billy Ray, Chip Johannessen, and Chris Keyser to head its negotiating committee.

WGA West exec director David Young will be the chief negotiator for the guild. The WGA did not disclose when it will launch contract negotiations with the studios on a new master contract. The current three-year deal expires on May 1.

Negotiations with the Directors Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers will launch Dec. 5. The DGA deal expires June 30. SAG-AFTRA’s deal also expires June 30.

The WGA and the AMPTP — which serves as the bargaining arm for production companies — had no comment as to details of the talks. It’s the second consecutive time that Ray (“Captain Phillips,” “The Hunger Games”) and Johannessen (an executive producer on “Homeland”) have been co-chairs of the negotiating committee.

Keyser served two two-year terms as WGA West president before being termed out last year. Ray was also co-chair for the 2010-11 negotiations.

During the 2014 negotiations, leaders of the WGA placed a premium on hiking compensation for cable shows. The contract negotiations will take place nine years after the raucous 100-day WGA strike shook Hollywood to the core.

The committee includes Patric Verrone, who served as president during the strike, “House of Cards” showrunner Beau Willimon, “The Shield” showrunner Shawn Ryan, “Straight Outta Compton” co-writer Andrea Berloff and “Erin Brockovich” screenwriter Susannah Grant.

Other members include Alfredo Barrios Jr., Adam Brooks, Zoanne Clack, Marjorie David, Kate Erickson, Jonathan Fernandez, Travon Free, Howard Michael Gould, Erich Hoeber, Richard Keith, Warren Leight, Alison McDonald, Luvh Rakhe, Stephen Schiff, David Shore, Meredith Stiehm, Eric Wallace, and Nicole Yorkin.

WGA West president Howard A. Rodman and WGA East president Michael Winship are also on the committee along with David A. Goodman (VP of the WGA West), Jeremy Pikser (VP of the WGA East), Aaron Mendelsohn (secretary-treasurer of the WGA West), and Bob Schneider (secretary-treasurer of the WGA East).

The WGA has about 12,000 members — 8,000 with the Los Angeles-based WGA West and 4,000 with the New York-based WGA East.

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