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Writers Guild Names Negotiating Committee Amid Strike Fears

With Hollywood already fearing a strike, the Writers Guild of America has appointed more than two dozen members to serve on its negotiating committee for upcoming negotiations on its master contract.

The current three-year deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) expires on May 1. The guild’s seven-month standoff with agencies has heightened worries that the WGA will go on strike after the contract expires.

The WGA is required to seek approval of its “pattern of demands” before meeting with the companies. WGA West executive director David Young, who orchestrated the bitter 2007-08 strike, will serve as chief negotiator. Michele Mulroney, Shawn Ryan and Betsy Thomas are the co-chairs.

Notable names on the committee include “Crazy Rich Asians” writer Adele Lim; Meredith Stiehm, one of the plaintiffs in the WGA’s suit over the legality of CAA, UTA and WME charging packaging fees; Patric Verrone, who was WGA West president during the strike; former WGA West president Chris Keyser; and Oscar-nominated writer Eric Heisserer.

Others include Liz Alper, Arash Amel, John August, Amy Berg, Ashley Nicole Black, Adam Brooks, Francesca Butler, Patti Carr, Robb Chavis, Meg DeLoatch, Travis Donnelly, Kate Erickson, Dante W. Harper, Melissa London Hilfers, Elliott Kalan, Peter Murrieta, Luvh Rakhe, Dailyn Rodriguez, Erica Saleh, David Slack, Lauren Ashley Smith and Amy Sohn.

WGA West president David A. Goodman, WGA West VP Marjorie David, WGA East president Beau Willimon, WGA East VP Kathy McGee and WGA East secretary-treasurer Bob Schneider are ex-officio members of the committee.

The WGA West recently told members it’s making progress in efforts to sign more agencies to its new rules for representing its members amid the WGA’s seven-month standoff with most Hollywood agencies. It gave no details other than asserting that the WGA leaders have been holding “useful discussions with several individual agencies.”

The guild required on April 13 that members fire their agents if the agents had not signed a Code of Conduct which bans agents from taking packaging fees and prohibits agencies from owning production affiliates.

Goodman and his allies handily won the WGA West contest on Sept. 16 with a record turnout of 58%. After winning, Goodman promised that WGA leaders would begin meeting soon with individual agencies to sign agreements regarding the bans on packaging fees and affiliate production.

Currently, more than 70 agencies are allowed to represent WGA members thanks to agreeing to a ban of agency packaging fees and affiliate production. A trio of mid-sized agencies — Verve, Kaplan Stahler and Buchwald — signed deals with the WGA since have April. CAA, UTA and WME recently consolidated their antitrust suits against the WGA into a single action, accusing the union of engaging in an illegal group boycott.

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