A trio of candidates for the Writers Guild of America West’s board have dropped out of the race in order to support the guild’s hardline stance on Hollywood agents.
Rob Forman, Ed Herro and Chris Roessner all announced Tuesday that they had withdrawn from the contest. The three dropouts mean that there are now 18 candidates for eight open board seats in a contest that’s viewed as a referendum on the WGA’s hard-nosed approach. Election results will be announced on Sept. 16.
Craig Mazin dropped out of the election last week as a vice presidential candidate due to concerns over a family member’s health. Mazin was a running mate with Phyllis Nagy, who is challenging WGA West president David Goodman on a platform that the WGA needs to get back to the bargaining table after six weeks of staying away. Nick Jones Jr. is also part of the slate as a candidate for secretary-treasurer, while Nicolaus Kazan, Jason Fuchs, Ayelet Waldman, Ashley Miller, Sarah Treem, Marc Guggenheim, Courtney Kemp and Rasheed Newson have expressed opposition to Goodman’s approach.
Goodman declared on June 20 that the guild would no long negotiate with the Association of Talent Agencies and instead hold individual negotiations with nine agencies. One of those nine, Kaplan Stahler, subsequently signed a deal in which the agency agreed that it would not take packaging fees or engage in affiliate production.
Herro said in his statement Tuesday that Goodman’s strategy is working and needs to be endorsed by the members.
“And although it hasn’t been perfect nor resolved as quickly as I’d hoped, I believe it’s working and will succeed,” Herro added. “Not only would I like to see these tactics supported in the upcoming election, I would like to see them so overwhelmingly approved that there can be no doubt of our intentions and resolve. My staying in the race may pull just a small fraction of votes but it’s a small fraction I’d rather see go to a more concentrated, dedicated core group of candidates.”
Herro said he was supporting Goodman, Marjorie David for VP and Michele Mulroney, who is running for treasurer along with board candidates Liz Alper, Angelina Burnett, Robb Chavis, Dante Harper and Zoe Marshall. Forman endorsed the same candidates along with incumbents Luvh Rakhe, Meredith Stiehm and Nicole Yorkin.
“So, if this election is to be seen purely as a referendum on the agency action — and my assessment is that it will absolutely be interpreted that way by our negotiating adversaries at the ATA and, yes, at the AMPTP — then let it be just that, a clean, decisive, up-down vote without extra candidates in the mix,” Forman said.
“While there are nuances, and name-recognition is sure to factor in, I see this as the best way for our union to put this chapter behind us and collectively move forward — knowing exactly where membership stands on the issues of realigning agency income with writer income, of compelling agencies to divest their production affiliates, of ensuring agents retain fiduciary duty to clients and not to shareholders after an IPO, and more,” he added.
Besides Kaplan Stahler, two other mid-size agencies — Verve and Buchwald — have signed agreements with the WGA that ban packaging fees and affiliate production. Forman said he wants to see more such deals.
“Frankly, I feel the public push to rush back into talks with the full ATA and the Big 4 on their terms instead of ours has blunted our momentum with mid-size agencies, resulting in those getting close to making a deal instead taking a ‘wait-and-see’ approach,” he added.