Oscar-winning screenwriter Callie Khouri has issued a strong endorsement for David Goodman for re-election as president of the Writers Guild of America West.
“I have been a member of the WGA for twenty-nine years,” Khouri said in a email to members. “I’ve seen us win some and lose some. But after all these years I know one thing for sure; nothing makes a writer more vulnerable than a weak and fractured union. I am voting for experience, strength and unity.”
Khouri won an Academy Award for “Thelma & Louise” and created “Nashville,” which ran for six seasons. She said in the email Monday that the Writers Forward Together slate lacks the experience to lead. That slate, headed by Phyllis Nagy, is running on a platform that highlights the need for the WGA to resume negotiations with the major agencies. Ballots went out Aug. 29 to about 10,000 members with results announced Sept. 16.
“I do not believe the Forward Together slate has the experience or the plan required to move this negotiation forward in a way that will ultimately be best for all writers,” she said. “Perhaps the details of that plan are laid out in a private chatroom somewhere to which I was not privy, but it still doesn’t speak to the lack of experience. The suggestion that our current leadership doesn’t have a plan, or is fumbling their way through this is frankly ludicrous and not helpful.”
“Current leadership has done the work, they’ve done the listening, and they thoroughly understand the risks and realities. Negotiations are about leverage and power. 95.3% of us voted to stand together and see this through and that’s what I intend to do.”
The WGA’s Code of Conduct, which bars agencies from taking packaging fees and engaging in affiliate production, was imposed on April 13 and required members to fire their agents if the agents had not agreed to the ban. The WGA then sued the four largest agencies — CAA, WME, UTA and ICM Partners — over the legality of packaging, resulting in countersuits alleging antitrust violations. A trio of smaller agencies (Verve, Buchwald and Kaplan Stahler) have agreed to follow the WGA’s Code of Conduct.
“I have served two terms on the board and on one negotiating committee, and I know from firsthand experience the level of research, preparation, and strategic planning required of the leadership and staff in a campaign like this one,” she wrote. “I take the writers of the Forward Together slate at their word when they say they care about our Guild and are running because they believe it’s what’s best for us all. I would hope that they would be willing to contribute their ideas and help see this action through to a successful conclusion, something we all want.”
She also urged members to re-elect Marjorie David, who is running unopposed as vice president and to elect Michele Mulroney as secretary-treasurer in addition to board candidates Liz Alper, Angelina Burnett, Robb Chavis, Dante Harper, Zoe Marshall, Luvh Rakhe, Meredith Stiehm and Nicole Yorkin.