Seven months after the end of a bruising strike, Hollywood scribes have issued an early warning to the majors: Get ready for a contentious rematch in 2011, when the current Writers Guild of America contract concludes.
In the WGA West board election results announced Tuesday, guild members gave a strong endorsement to the board’s stance of maintaining an assertive posture toward the congloms. Three winners were first-time candidates, who are young by WGAW board member standards and who played prominent roles during the strike.
Voting turnout, however, was light, as is usually the case with WGAW elections that do not involve the top job of prexy. This time around, 1,235 ballots were cast, or 51 fewer than in the 2007 election in which WGAW prexy Patric Verrone was re-elected. The lead vote-getter was newcomer Katherine Fugate, creator and exec producer of Lifetime’s hit drama “Army Wives,” who served as a strike captain during the 100-day labor action. Fugate garnered 647 votes, followed by negotiating committee chairman John Bowman with 629.
Fugate told Daily Variety that she was “flattered, amazed and shocked” by the support and noted that she stressed in her campaign that contract enforcement in new media would be her top priority. “It’s one thing to have struck for 100 days, but it’s all for naught if we’re not getting paid for what we do,” she added.
Negotiating committee member Howard Michael Gould, best remembered for giving a rousing speech at a WGA meeting at the Los Angeles Convention Center four days before the strike began, came in third with 619, followed by David A. Goodman (552), Karen Harris (544), Mark Gunn (525), Aaron Mendelsohn (498) and Kathy Kiernan (463).
Bowman, Goodman, Gunn, Mendelsohn and Kiernan are incumbents and were all active during the strike, while Fugate and Harris served as strike captains. The campaigning stressed the positive outcome of the strike, while criticism of current leaders was minimal, although in his campaign statement, Gould stressed the need for the WGAW board to better represent a diversity of viewpoints of showbiz writers in the guild.
Bowman and Gould have been mentioned as possible candidates to succeed Verrone when his term ends next fall. Gould told Daily Variety that it’s too early to make that decisison.
Verrone is precluded by the guild constitution from seeking a third consecutive term as president.
Gunn was one of the few WGA West candidates to say in his campaign statement that he doesn’t want a strike in 2011.
Goodman, who also served on the negotiating committee, took a more militant stance. Asserting that current WGA leaders aren’t out to destroy the biz, he said that “some members mischaracterize their actions because they refuse to accept the major lesson of the strike: The only way to achieve our goals is by taking a hard line.”
Gould and Mendelsohn were the only two candidates to win without Verrone’s endorsement. In his campaign, Gould criticized the makeup of the WGAW board and noted that in the three previous elections, all 30 elected candidates had run on a slate under Verrone or with his endorsement.
Gould said Tuesday, as he had during the campaign, that the board should represent a “philosophical cross-section” of the membership — as was the case with the negotiating committee.
The WGA West outcome was similar to last week’s results for the WGA East, where voters opted for seven incumbents for the 10 open seats on the WGA East Council following a campaign that saw most candidates pledge an aggressive stance at the negotiating table.