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Screenwriter Phyllis Nagy Runs for Writers Guild Presidency, Citing Agency Stalemate

Oscar-nominated screenwriter Phyllis Nagy is challenging Writers Guild of America West’s incumbent president David Goodman, citing his handling of the bitter stalemate between the WGA and Hollywood agents.

Nagy announced her candidacy online Monday night, a day before the deadline for filing. She made the announcement  in a private online group as part of Writers for Negotiation, which has been voicing concerns about the lack of progress in the standoff.

She’s the second presidential candidate to oppose Goodman, who has become the WGA’s public voice during the dispute for more than a year. Veteran writer William Schmidt (“Yellowstone”) announced in early July that he was running against Goodman due to a lack of confidence in Goodman’s abilities.

Goodman announced on June 20 that the guild had called off negotiations with the Association of Talent Agents in favor of pursuing individual talks with nine top agencies as it enforces a total ban on packaging fees and affiliated production for agents representing guild members. No new talks have been scheduled.

The WGA West announced on June 21 that its negotiating committee had sought a second unidentified candidate for the presidency but that person opted not to run. Nagy and Schmidt are running via petition, under which members can submit 25 member signatures by July 23.

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Election results will be announced on Sept. 16. Several of the 20 candidates seeking WGA West board seats — Ayelet Waldman and Rasheed Newson — have also gone public with their concerns about the handling of the negotiations with the ATA.

Nagy, who received an Academy Award nomination for the “Carol” adapted screenplay, said in her announcement that she has received strong support among members for a resolution of the dispute over the lapsed Artists’ Manager Basic Agreement and the upcoming negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. The AMPTP master contract expires on May 1. She also announced a pair of running mates — Craig Mazin and Nick Jones, Jr.

“The decision was not taken lightly, and a symphony of writers have been working tirelessly to make this happen on behalf of all officer and board candidates,” she said. “Alongside me as officer candidates are Craig Mazin – vice president – and Nick Jones, Jr. – secretary/treasurer. We all believe that the resolution of the AMBA action may well determine the fate of writing as a viable career choice, particularly for the most vulnerable members of our community – and that, above all, a measured, calm, respected, reasonable – and yes – negotiated – path will get writers back to work with their chosen reps in advance of the crucial AMPTP negotiations next year.”

“We’ll do this without demonizing the current leadership; they brought important issues concerning agency abuse out into the light,” Nagy added. “But as the action stretches on, it has become clear to many of us that there is no plan to resolve.”

Following a strong vote of support in March from writers, the WGA instructed guild members on April 12 to “fire” their agents after the sides failed to reach an agreement on a new Code of Conduct that ended longstanding industry practices. The parties have turned to the courts to settle their differences, with the WGA suing the big four agencies, and three agencies so far — WME, CAA and UTA — suing the WGA back.

The WGA has scored victories with a pair of midsize agencies, Verve and Kaplan Stahler, agreeing to sign the code of conduct.

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