Tom Schulman on Writers Guild: ‘We Have Unprecedented Solidarity’

Oscar-winning screenwriter Tom Schulman has issued a strong endorsement for David Goodman for re-election as president of the Writers Guild of America West.

In an email to WGA West members Wednesday, Schulman took issue with the claim by the opposition Writers Forward Together slate that they have never seen the Guild so divided. He noted that more than 7,000 members voted in March to support the leadership’s Code of Conduct to ban agency packaging fees and affiliate ownership, while around 300 opposed.

“In my 33 years as a Guild member, I’ve never seen anything close to 7,000 members turn out to vote on anything,” he said. “Far from divided, we have unprecedented solidarity.”

Schulman won an Academy Award for “Dead Poets Society” and has credits on “Welcome to Mooseport” and “What About Bob.” He was vice president of the WGA West from 2009-2011, and served on the board of directors from 2005-2009 — which featured a bitter 100-day strike in 2007-08.

He also said in the email that the Writers Forward Together is sending the wrong message to companies for next year’s negotiations on a successor deal to the current master contract. 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. Goodman has opted for talks with individual agencies since June. Ballots went out Aug. 29 to about 10,000 members with results announced Sept. 16.

“Our power comes from our solidarity and our willingness to strike if necessary,” he said in his email. “Absent those, history tells us we gain little. I served two terms on the Guild board and on three negotiating committees. I’ve seen first-hand how leadership preparation and style impact negotiations.”

“Forward Together insists the upcoming MBA contract negotiations in 2020 are important, that we must be prepared, and I wholeheartedly agree,” Schulman added. “But we will be negotiating against the most powerful entertainment companies in the world, and those companies constantly take our measure. They see if we’re organizing, they see if we’re willing to take strike authorization votes, and most importantly they see how well we’re holding together. How we comport ourselves now, in this negotiation, right in front of the companies is our preparation for 2020.”

The current WGA master contract expires on May 1 while the Directors Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA deals conclude on June 30. No talks have been scheduled by any of the guilds with the companies, which negotiate through the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

“If we can’t hold together now, after a 95% vote in support of this campaign — in a situation where, unlike in a normal strike, writers are working! — the companies will know we have little hope of maintaining solidarity or a successful strike threat against them next year — and probably not for a long time to come,” Schulman said.

He also endorsed Goodman’s allies, including Marjorie David for vice president; Michele Mulroney for secretary-treasurer; and board candidates Liz Alper, Angelina Burnett, Robb Chavis, Dante Harper, Zoe Marshall, Luvh Rakhe, Meredith Stiehm and Nicole Yorkin.

Popular on Variety

More Film


    Filmax Acquires International on ‘The Curse of the Handsome Man’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    SAN SEBASTIAN  —  Barcelona-based boutique studio Filmax has acquired international rights to Argentine producer-director Beda Docampo’s “The Curse of the Handsome Man,” produced by Ibón Cormenzana’s Arcadia Motion Pictures alongside Cados Producciones and Damned Besso –based in Spain—in co-production with Cecilia Díez’s Zarlek Producciones (“Medianeras”) in Argentina. The film is backed by Spanish public broadcaster [...]

  • La-mala-familia

    Javi Tasio Talks ECAM Incubator Title ‘La Mala Familia’

    SAN SEBASTIAN  —  Via their BRBR collective, filmmakers Nacho A. Villar and Luis Rojo have directed award winning music videos, and commercias. Now they’ll make the leap to features with “La Mala Familia,” a gritty urban drama set in the outskirts of Madrid. Variety spoke with the film’s producer, Javi Tasio, who developed this project at ECAM’s [...]

  • Submerged

    Outsider Takes World Sales on ‘Submerged’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    SAN SEBASTIAN  — Paul Hudson’s Outsider Pictures has acquired world sales rights to“Submergible” (Submerged) a narco capsule-sub-set drama thriller from Ecuador’s Alfredo León León who debuted with an original prisoner-of-war drama, “Open Wound.” Written by Daniela Granja Nuñez and Alfredo León León, “Submerged” is produced out of Ecuador by León León’s Boom en Cuadro and [...]

  • Charlie-Chaplin-and-Horse-Roy-Export-Co

    Carmen Chaplin to Direct ‘Charlie Chaplin, a Man of the World’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    SAN SEBASTIAN  — Director-producer-actress Carmen Chaplin is set to direct “Charlie Chaplin, a Man of the World,” a theatrical documentary feature which will add a hardly-explored new facet to the creator of the Tramp, one of the most iconic cinema characters in popular consciousness, plumbing Chaplin’s Romani roots and heritage. Marking the first time that [...]

  • Incitement

    'Incitement' Wins Ophir Award for Best Picture, Becomes Israel's Oscar Submission

    “Incitement” was the best-picture winner at Israel’s Ophir Awards on Sunday night, automatically becoming the country’s choice to vie for the international feature film Oscar. The winning film, a drama about the period leading up to the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish extremist in 1995, had its global premiere at [...]

  • LargoAI

    LargoAI Wins Inaugural San Sebastian Zinemaldia & Technology Startup Challenge

    SAN SEBASTIAN  —  Swiss artificial intelligence and data analytics company LargoAI won Sunday’s first-ever San Sebastian Film Festival Zinemaldia & Technology Startup Challenge. LargoAI’s software provides data-driven filmmaking strategies, similar to those used by major VOD platforms which aggregate and often horde their own user-driven data. From early in the screenwriting process through development and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content