Hollywood is scratching its collective head over the embarrassing resignation Jan. 6 of Victoria Riskin as Writers Guild of America, West, prexy and her replacement by VP Charles Holland.
Riskin’s 4:30 a.m. departure was triggered by investigator William Gould IV‘s finding that she was ineligible to hold the office because she was not an active member when she sought re-election last summer. Gould said her membership lapsed June 30 because she hadn’t generated earnings from writing in the previous four years.
But the whole spectacle was easily avoidable.
Long before challenger Eric Hughes made Riskin’s eligibility an issue in the campaign, it was well known within the guild that Riskin was in danger of losing her active status. Indeed, former WGA West prexy Dan Petrie Jr. testified at the hearing before Gould that Holland was considering a run for president last spring and Riskin’s eligibility was already a question then.
“We were discussing the pros and cons of his running for president, and he said he promised Vicki that he wouldn’t run against her if she ran, and the contingency was her eligibility,” Petrie testified. “I knew this was an issue at that time.”
Riskin scrambled to regain her eligibility a few weeks before the June 30 deadline, receiving $3,895 for optioning a remake of “Magic Town,” a 1947 film by her father, Robert Riskin; she started writing in November and was paid $8,456 on Dec. 12.
But Gould was unswayed — option payments don’t count as earnings, and the December payment could only be credited to the fourth quarter.