Oscars: '12 Years a Slave’ Screenplay Rift Between Steve McQueen, John Ridley Boils Over

Oscars: '12 Years a Slave' Screenplay Rift Between Steve McQueen, John Ridley Boils Over

Fox Searchlight sided with the writer, while producer Brad Pitt has personally been trying to mediate the growing feud

Long before each came away with an Academy Award, “12 Years a Slave” director Steve McQueen and screenwriter John Ridley were embroiled in a bitter feud regarding credit for the film's Oscar-winning screenplay, a fight they kept quiet for the good of the campaign before it came to a head Sunday night at the Dolby Theatre.

Ridley turned down McQueen's request for shared screenplay credit, TheWrap has learned. He won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay on Sunday and did not thank the director in his acceptance speech, striding past him on his way to the podium but pausing to hug director David O. Russell. Some observers interpreted McQueen's unsmiling applause as half-hearted (see gif).

Also read: Harold Ramis and Bill Murray: Inside The ‘Groundhog Day’ Duo's Decade-Long Feud



Also read: Oscars: The Winners (Photos)

McQueen later took the microphone at the end of the evening when “12 Years a Slave” won Best Picture, and made no mention of the writer. While McQueen lost the Best Director award to Alfonso Cuaron (“Gravity”), he was one of five producers to win Best Picture for “Slave” along with Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner and Anthony Katagas.

Apparently, the bad blood between McQueen and Ridley has persisted for some time. McQueen has paid respect to Ridley's contribution in interviews, though he has never been effusive in his praise, not that McQueen often is (outside of Michael Fassbender). An individual familiar with the frosty situation tells TheWrap that McQueen has iced Ridley out to the point of rudeness — he barred people from speaking to Ridley and insisted that the writer be seated at separate tables at awards shows late in the season, including the BAFTAs.

Also read: Oscars: How '12 Years a Slave’ Won the Big One

That's where McQueen berated Ridley's wife while the writer was in the bathroom, trying to snatch up her BAFTA souvenirs and leaving her in tears, according to two insiders who passed along details of the outburst.

“12 Years a Slave” took the top prize at the BAFTAs that night and McQueen failed to thank Ridley during his acceptance speech. That was no oversight, since McQueen read his prepared speech off a piece of paper. Additionally, at the Golden Globes, McQueen didn't thank Ridley until another producer whispered in his ear and reminded him to pay his respects, if only to prevent the media from speculating about the growing rift.

While some hoped McQueen and Ridley could settle their differences by Oscar night, it was not to be, as ABC cameras caught McQueen in the middle of what appeared to be begrudging applause when Ridley's Oscar win was announced.

McQueen tapped Ridley to work on a separate slavery-themed project that eventually led to “12 Years a Slave” after McQueen's wife discovered the book, which Ridley subsequently agreed to adapt on spec. McQueen had a hand in shaping the script that Ridley turned in, but when he asked the writer for shared credit — not uncommon in Hollywood — Ridley politely declined, an individual with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap.

Also read: Oscars: The Complete Winners List

McQueen was nonplussed and appealed to Fox Searchlight, which ultimately sided with Ridley. Brad Pitt, who produced “Slave” and plays a small role in the film, was even forced to step in at one point and mediate. (It didn't help that Pitt was also in the midst of a PR battle with Paramount over the fact that his company Plan B, based at the studio at the time, failed to offer it a chance to finance and distribute “12 Years a Slave” before taking the project to New Regency.)

McQueen begrudgingly agreed to hold his tongue for the sake of the movie. He, Ridley, Pitt and Fox Searchlight executives all knew what was at stake — and how easily a Best Picture win could slip through their fingers if public discord leaked to the media.

Their silence proved to be a wise decision: The slavery drama ended up winning three Oscars, including Best Picture, which McQueen accepted as a producer; and adapted screenplay, which Ridley accepted on his own behalf.

See photos: 26 Best & Worst Moments of Oscars 2014

Fox Searchlight and representatives for McQueen did not respond to repeated requests for comment by TheWrap. A representative for Ridley said she could not reach him but that the writer had thanked McQueen in previous speeches.

Coincidentally, Ridley has been in a similar situation before, having gone toe-to-toe with David O. Russell over the screenplay for “Three Kings.” Ridley wrote the original script on spec but it was so heavily rewritten by Russell that he only received a ‘story by’ credit, a snub that still rubs the writer the wrong way.

No matter: McQueen and Ridley both woke up Monday morning next to a little gold man named Oscar.

As they say, winning heals everything.

  • Jonas Grumby

    Every profession has it's assholes.

  • 4Is2C

    The director McQueen-married to a white woman, the writer Ridley-married to an Asian woman and the male star-married to a white woman. Black people were encouraged to see this movie, but the money made from this movie, none of it will go back to the Black community.

    • Marc Reeve

      Chiwetel Ejiofor's not actually married to that Canadian model. Not yet, anyway. (I was being amused at watching the split between media outlets who described her as his girlfriend or partner, vs. those who simply referred to her as his “guest” at the Oscars.)

    • Borntann

      Or these three human beings are married to seeming other wonderful human beings. Your racist bullshit is what keeps you in the hole you live in.

      • Geezus Khrist

        Save your breath, because even attempting to try and explain this to someone, (4ls2Cs post), is a waste of time. There is no way that they will ever be able to see the bigger picture due to their internal conflict.

    • nogo

      Unfortunately this very very prevalent self-ghettoizing and racist thinking like 4ls2C is common. People like Jesse Jackson and Louis Farrakhan spread it like a disease within the African-American community making blacks slaves to history rather than liberating them from it.

      • Jayne

        And your comment is not at all racist is it? Referring to members of the black community as slaves to history. Self-ghettoizing? Really? A people who despite only 50 years ago not able to walk the same side of the street as you manage to function, hold their head up high, accomplish great things and contribute to the social fabric of America and all you can say is they are “self-ghettoizing”? Where would you be or America be without the immense contributions of black people. Think about that.

    • JWood

      How often does a film's monetary profit go back into ANY community? I ask that to say this: the success of this movie absolutely gives back on numerous levels, including respect, financial and career opportunities, and acceptance.

      • Maliciousboy

        How often!!!??? I agree that the race of the spouses is irrelevant, but almost always in this country the monetary profit goes into the white community, as the film industry is dominated by them both in front and behind the camera, as well as within the executive ranks.

    • https://twitter.com/adamhowardcross Adam Cross

      why would the money go to the black community? it's a movie, the money goes to the cast, crew and the studios. what a strange comment.

    • jf2014

      Ironically, you're obsessed w/the women these black men marry but ignore the film's several black actresses, especially Lupita N'yongo. Or do black women not count in the black community? Or must they marry black men to count? also, how ironic tyou're saying “the black community” like it's one big neighborhood in the US, which leaves out the black folk from Kenya, Nigeria, and Britain who helped make this film. Even on your own terms, you're leaving out a lot of black folk in your attempt to defend black folk. smh

    • patchbran

      what the hell has that got to do w/ the price of tea in china? yeesh.

    • Correction

      McQueen's wife is not White. She's a lighter-toned Black lady — as if it should matter.

    • Jayne

      Your comment is unfortunate because a person's spouse's race should have no bearing on their art. Now, I get what maybe you are trying to say which is a film about such an important social issue should have a positive effect on the people who the film is about. For example, a film about Native Americans should ultimately end up maybe helping Native American communities in furthering themselves. Something about the financial rewards of the film should be returned to the community. Like Spielberg did with SChindler's list. he used that film to help support the preservation of Holocaust history. However, I don't think that is what you said and instead your post comes off silly and nonsensical. I also think it is funny everyone reacting to your post just assumes you are black. Weird.

    • BRobCleveland

      Black man here, who only dates Black women — Was the movie good? Yes. Did the brothas get paid? Yes they did. So who gives a damn who they are married to? How the hell is that relevant to anything?

      Smmfh . . . .

  • harveywilkinson

    None of this would been an issue if the script was written under WGA auspices; the Guild would have settled the matter early and definitively. However, John Ridely is a scab and this is the sort of thing that happens when you proceed without Guild protections.

    On the other hand, it is supremely tasteless and tacky for McQueen to seek credit. Ridely wrote this ON SPEC — did McQueen direct it on spec? The fact the producers and studios did not side with him speaks scores. Directors almost always inflate the value of their “contribution” to rewrites, just another reason to leave credit arbitration in the hands of the professionals of the WGA. Sure, the credit arbitration process is imperfect, it's a heckuva lot better than what played out on stage at the Oscars.

    McQueen is a spoiled brat — especially if the stories of his behavior towards Ridley's wife are true — who should be content in the showers of praise and accolades he's receiving without claiming credit for Ridley's work, done ON SPEC. On the other hand, Ridley gave the middle finger to the Guild, who would have had his back and beat down McQueen pretty quickly over this whole affair.

    In sum, karma all the way around.

    • 2tall4u

      I didn't know Ridley was a scab. That's pretty damn sad.

      • harveywilkinson

        Yep, he went ficore during the strike.

        • 2tall4u

          Well now I'm pissed. As a LA Local Board member of SAG-AFTRA I really take that personally. Oy vey!!

          • harveywilkinson

            I know! Me too. But this is an instructive moment for all writers (and SAG members). It's very hard for a screenwriter (or actor who is not a megastar) to stand up for their work against directors like McQueen and producers like Pitt and Plan B on their own. This is exactly the sort of thing the professional guilds know how to handle.

          • Larry Biddle

            Except Ridley seems to have handled it quite well, by himself. He retains credit and the Oscar for himself.

          • harveywilkinson

            Well, if by “handled quite well” you mean causing a public spectacle with an embarrassing feud with the director on Oscar night and detracting in a huge way from the film.

          • drawn2read423

            obviously that not true…proof Oscar in hand…so yes, he handled it quite welll…

          • harveywilkinson

            Umm when the trades are printing stories about your wife breaking down in tears because she's being publicly berated by the director as a result of your credit spat, you are not “handling it well.”

          • Larry Biddle

            First, Ridley has no control over how McQueen acts. Secondly, the dispute could have been settled by the Supreme court, but it doesn't mean someone wouldn't be upset by it. Bottom line Ridley had his rights protected. That's the best outcome he could have hoped for.

          • BRobCleveland

            If I have a beef with Steve McQueen, and he responds by berating my wife, how the hell have I come off “looking bad”? By not knuckling under to a damn bully, the way others would?

      • BeJebus

        he's not a scab. he's a dues-paying non-member of the wga. all it means is that he can write for a non-signatory if he chooses. he hasn't done so.

        • Maliciousboy

          He is a scab. He spoke out against the guild DURING the strike. Refused to not take assignments DURING the strike. In other words — he crossed the picket line for a pay check while others lost work in in my case — a house. I've also worked with him, and he is not an angel. Put his name on something I wrote. Also — You realize he was not even nominated for a WGA writing award. Guess why. Scab.

          • temperance lancecouncil

            Lots of people are NOW looking up to him. If this is true, maybe he'll address it in an upcoming interview. This is important – IMO.

          • BRobCleveland

            Labor lawyer here. You wrote “Refused to not take assignments DURING the strike. In other words — he crossed the picket line for a pay check while others lost work in in my case — a house.”

            Are you saying he ACTUALLY DID cross the picket line and work for a signatory? Or are you saying that he refused to say he would not take work.

            The first could be called a scab; the second is someone obviously disgusted with the union and it's dumb decision making.

            Big fracking difference between those two situations. See “baseball umpires and Ritchie Phillips ‘brilliant idea’ to stage a mass resignation” . . . .

          • BeJebus

            name the “assignments” he took during the strike. and sorry you lost your house (so you claim) but you weren't precluded from finding other work outside your field to meet your obligations. and the nominations are for members, not dues paying non members, which is what he is.

    • Chris

      Sorry. It was subject to arbitration because the studio and production company are guild signatories. Ridley being fi-core is irrelevant.

      • harveywilkinson

        Ah, interesting. I wondered if that was the case, but in that case the reporting in this article is inaccurate and unhelpful because in that case Ridley has absolutely no ability to grant or share credit, nor does Plan B or the studio. The WGA and WGA alone determines credit, the scripts are read blind, and Ridley has no say in the matter. If this has already been through arbitration and McQueen lost then this is a closed issue and the article should reflect that.

        • Jeff Sneider

          The article isn't about who denied McQueen credit. It never went to arbitration. It was kept in-house for a reason… if McQueen and Ridley were seen sparring over credit, it would negatively impact the movie's chances as a whole.

          • harveywilkinson

            The article pretty clearly states that it was within Ridley's power to grant McQueen the credit and that Ridley unilaterally denied him the credit. But I'm a bit confused — are you saying the script was “subject” to WGA arbitration, but never actually underwent arbitration? Arbitration is triggered automatically when a director seeks credit. Just confused how McQueen could have gone after a credit and there was no arbitration if it was subject to WGA arbitration by virtue of the studio and prodco being signatories. I'm honestly curious. I mean, it would be nice if the article addresses this stuff.

          • BeJebus

            nothing is triggered if the director privately asks the writer if he will willingly share credit and the writer says no. the director would then have to officially ask the signatory production company, which would trigger arbitration. that wasn't done because everyone involved knew it could affect the film's oscar chances (and the chances of both the director and screenwriter) and they were right.

          • harveywilkinson

            Ah, that makes a little more sense. Again, the article is confusing because it says McQueen “appealed” to Fox Searchlight, which sounds formal.

          • Mick

            ‘Formal’ within the production team, if I'm tracking the discussion correctly (I'm not a Guild member). Filing at WGA is probably the event that would attract journalists, bloggers, and other publicity-mongers. Fox Searchlight execs wisely kept the Donnybrooks internal. Query: wouldn't Ridley be under some pressure to join, as a TV writer, and screenwriter of a widely released film?

          • Bruce Kalish

            When a script goes to the WGA, as all scripts from signatory companies must submit, a paper goes with it that MUST have all CONTRIBUTING writers on the cover along with the proposed credit. Those contributing writers in return are asked if any of them want to arbitrate the companies suggested credits. If not, then the credit stands. If any of those writers think differently then the script has to go to arbitration. It is not clear what process the company took with 12 Years. A WGA writer can not dictate who gets credit if he is working for a signatory company.

          • harveywilkinson

            Thank you, helpful and informative. It's annoying to have to go to the comments section to find more thorough reporting than what's presented in the article, but so is life in the blog age.

          • tinkero

            Wow– so, according to your “reporting”, Mr. McQueen knew they were going to be in contention for oscars even before Ridley finished the first draft? That is the “reason” why he did not pursue his desire to share screenplay credit?

            How long have you been covering Hollywood, Mr. Sneider?

            Apparently not very long, or not very well.

          • tinkero

            Also you curiously write: “The article isn't about who denied McQueen credit”.

            Then why is your SECOND SENTENCE: “Ridley turned down McQueen’s request for shared screenplay credit, TheWrap has learned.”

            Seems to me your lede is EXACTLY about who “denied McQueen credit”!!!!

            At least have the balls to stick by your own story!

          • Brantley

            McQueen would have needed Ridley's cooperation and endorsement for any arbitration to have seriously considered his contribution as a writer who is also producer and director. Hence the use of the word ” permission”
            You're right the production and distributors probably wanted uncomplicated success and might have asked Steve to sacrifice an attempt to gain a writing credit because arbitration would have appeared as disharmony.

          • Bruce Kalish

            No. Arbitration happens al the time. Usually it doesn't even happen until the project is finished as their are rewrites etc during production. And, no, no cooperation is needed. He can ask for shared credit but the production company suggests a credit and any writer who has written on the project is supposed to get their name submitted as a contributing writer. Then, if any of these contributing writers choose to arbitrate the companies suggestion, they can… without anyones cooperation.

          • Brantley

            Perhaps I have been unclear. I am familiar with the arbitration process and how it is triggered and the different stages it can occur during production. I am also familiar with rules and how the guild perceives auteurs.
            Throughout the media campaign the two men have carefully hiddened their animosity towards each other and I believe this was a calculated and perhaps instructed business decision. My agreement with Jeff is that there is no evidence that the credit decision went to arbitration. The producers & distributor may have decided that adding McQueen to the notice of tentative writing credits and there by triggering an automatic arbitration would upset the united front of a harmonious award winning production.
            I also stand by my comment that had Steve McQueen entered to compete for a writing credit with Ridley he would have been on a hiding to nothing without Ridley's endorsement and perhaps even with it. It was he that was more likely to be disappointed because of his non writing rolesin this film. The proof of an auteur's 50% contribution is often plainly re jected by the writers union and their decision is arbitary afer all.
            A contraversial arbitration decision at any stage before the award season would have tainted the product being hawked and Steve McQueen might have been persuaded to put the film before his rights. What a gentleman ! All speculation I know but so is the idea that there was an arbitration.

        • Sean Richardson

          You are talking about a different type of thing. if McQueen had claimed to rewrite the script, then they çould submit both scripts to an arbitration situation as the one you describe.

          McQueen is saying that the initial 12 Days script should be credited to the writing team “John Ridley & Steve McQueen”. In that case, it would be up to Ridley to affirm such a partnership existed, and he does not feel that it did. There aren't different drafts to compare here.

          • harveywilkinson

            Ah, good point. I thought McQueen's revisions were the issue here. The article says McQueen “drafted” Ridley to write the script, but that he “had a hand in it.” Which sounds to me like the classic case of the writer actually writing the script and a director wanting writing credit for giving notes.

    • Leonardo Spanky

      Do you have a copy of the 2011 draft of the script? Because Steve McQueen is clearly credited on the title page as co-writer.

    • Bartman2014

      Nice rant about how valuable the guild would have been. But it seems to me Ridley didn't need the guild to get his sole credit. Did just fine without the union “having his back.”

      • harveywilkinson

        No, Ridley didn't end up needing the Guild to keep his sole credit, but McQueen would have been much less likely to be acting like a petulant spoiled child to Ridley's wife or in front a billion people on Oscar night if the Guild had settled this matter early and definitively.

    • Lach

      “Scab?” – entrepreneurial to write ON SPEC!

    • legal eagle

      Wait until the next time McQueen tries to pull this stunt….The WGA will cut off his nuts…

  • A.L. Hern

    If one looks closely (not too closely, actually; it's really rather obvious), McQueen's palms never quite make contact with each other: his “applause” at Ridley's winning the Oscar is pure pantomime.

    It suggests that McQueen, should his directing career stall, may still have a future as a dress extra.

    • Mick

      As you say, it is really rather obvious; I'm thinking that's why they showed the clip. ;>))

    • Matt Langdon

      Actually if you watch the full clip after the award is announced McQueen actually stands up with everyone else and does indeed clap. The gif in this article is only a few seconds of the entire applause.

      • filmjeff

        When Ridley is announced as winner, McQueen stays in his seat looking forward. Ridley passes with so much as a out a look at each other. He hugs David O. Russell, someone he'd also had a dispute with in the past.

  • Mr Ripley

    Writers can be territorial sometimes but to make an issue about this is just like two children fighting over a toy.. Grow up you two and move on

    • harveywilkinson

      I don't think anyone who considers writers territorial has ever asked an actor to split their Oscar in half and share it.

    • Name

      It's not a toy. The credit is determinative to the writer's career.

      • harveywilkinson

        Yes. The credit is also determinative to a potentially large amount of income in the form of residuals.

        • Name


    • patchbran

      you're not a writer, are you, darling…?

  • David

    So unlike John Ridley to be difficult

    • harveywilkinson

      Funny, I didn't know standing up for your work counted as being difficult. I wonder how gracious and “not difficult” McQueen would have been if Dede Garner had asked to share his directing credit.

      • writer

        Agreed. If I were Ridley I would have replied to McQueen's request by asking to share director credit.

    • Maliciousboy

      I have to assume you're being extremely sarcastic. LOL.

  • LaLaBound

    Actors and directors always get the attention and aren't asked to share. Why not let the writer have what is his? There's no movie without the script.

    • goldushapple

      Because actors and directors are higher on the hierarchy of positions where butt kissing and protection (from fans, from the industry itself) are the norm.

  • jwahwah

    Truly the bitterness in showbiz grows tiring. So much talent and skills to be wasted by trivial issues. Oh well.

    • Name

      Writer's credit isn't trivial to a writer's career. It becomes the basis for future assignments, remuneration, etc. It's a resume.

  • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3769949/ thatpj

    Wish this came out after BAFTA……ugh 12 years a slave crew had a free pass this season.

  • tinkero

    Shockingly poor reporting!

    Clearly the reporter is not aware of the WGA rules when he wrote: “Ridley turned down McQueen’s request for shared screenplay credit, TheWrap has learned. ”

    When a director– any director– requests for shared credit, it is an AUTOMATIC arbitration. PERIOD.

    Even if the writer is Fi-Core, he is still protected by arbitration rules. He/she just cannot get a WGA Award.

    In fact, the entire PURPOSE of the automatic arbitration rule is to make sure that the writer is NEVER put into the uncomfortable position of having to say “no” to a more powerful Director and/or Producer.

    As someone who has been in this exact situation, I would appreciate it if your corrected the article.

    Mr. Ridley had NO OPPORTUNITY to “turn down” Mr.McQueen's request. Even if Mr. Ridley wished to honor the request, it was out of his hands. It is an AUTOMATIC arbitration! Even if he desired to share the credit, the WGA would step in and decide. And presumably, Mr. McQueen would have lost.

    • harveywilkinson

      Well put! The article is very poorly reported. It makes it sound like it is “customary” for writers to go around voluntarily “sharing” their credit — which they don't, and as you point out is not even within their authority to do, especially when asked by a director — and that Ridley was just being difficult. Very misleading and inaccurate reporting on this point.

      • Jeff Sneider

        The story hardly makes the case that Ridley was being difficult. I don't take sides and have no interest in spinning it one way or the other.

        • harveywilkinson

          The article says it is common for screenwriters to share writing credit with directors who ask (it's not), which makes Ridley look like he was not following industry norms. I don't have an interest in “spinning” anything either, but this is not an accurate depiction of how screenplay credit is determined, and it reflects poorly on Ridley by making him look like he's not following industry custom.

          • Jeff Sneider

            The article says it's common that directors ASK, not that screenwriters SHARE. #ReadingComprehension

          • pm6

            That qualifier should've been made. The way it's written implies it's common for screenwriters to share, especially after the statement that the director had a hand in shaping the script and the writer declined to share. It does have spin even if not intentional.

          • harveywilkinson

            My guess is that from the article writer's perspective the story is juicier and has more conflict if it puts equal blame on Ridley by implying most writers would have voluntarily given up their credit when asked by the directory.

          • pm6

            Obviously you feel under attack but the hash tag snark is unnecessary and juvenile, and you can make a point without it. If you want the authority of reporting, then you should maintain a professional manner.

          • Elizabeth

            This dude can NEVER make a point without snark. And, if you want accurate reporting without bias, then don't read ANYTHING written by Jeff Sneider.

          • harveywilkinson

            For starters, it is factually inaccurate that directors frequently ask screenwriters to unilaterally (and after-the-fact) consent to share writing credit. This hardly ever happens and is basically not allowed to happen to projects written under Guild auspices. This case was a major anomaly and the article did not make that clear. The tone and intent of the article is one of educating uniformed readers of how the credit process works and informs readers that directors commonly ask writers to share credit (which is false) while NOT clarifying that most writers (either directly or through their representatives and/or Guild) would typically NOT consent to such a request. The article is both inaccurate and filled with glaring gaps. You're welcome to offer a lawyerly and legalistic defense but the tone and intent of its presentation that directors commonly ask writers to give them writing credit is clear as well as super-lame.

          • Vaughn Thompson

            am a complete fan, not an industry insider. I read it to be that it is normal
            procedure which I found odd. That's why I am reading these fascinating comments

          • Bruce Kalish

            Agreed and again. All contributing writers must be put on a form and sent to the guild along with the companies suggested CREDITS. If any of the contributing writers wants to they can arbitrate.

    • LaLaBound

      Interesting info here

    • SpiritOfArtBuchwald

      I see the perfect logic of your point here, tinkero, and I think it probably goes for other posters here, too. You made a totally valid point that this would probably have gone to ARBITRATION if a director (or producer) tried to seek a shared writer's credit.

      But I can't help, as a one-time newspaper guild member (and hopefully someday a WGA member) feeling SICK TO MY STOMACH over the fact Ridley went “fi-core” during the last WGA strike (2008, right?) and left his fellow members to do the blood, sweat and tears of working the picket lines! Does he really deserve any of the WGA's protective, arbitrary services here???

      I just feel so revolted over this whole emerging feud between Ridley and McQueen and can't help but think the meaning behind “12 Years a Slave” is being TAINTED by the connections here! Just strikes me as another Hollywood “den of thieves” kind of scenario, which I usually thought was left to the “studio accountants” and fringe agency types. How nauseating!

      • tinkero

        I am in NO WAY defending Mr. Ridley's Fi-Core decision– as one who was out of work during the strike. I am merely pointing out the errors in the article!

        • SpiritOfArtBuchwald

          Hear, hear, Tinkero, i totally understand your POV and your stating of facts on Ridley going Fi-Core and etc. I guess, as someone who's been a union member and seen them DECIMATED by monopolists/corporatists across many industry segments (not just entertainment but also teachers, telecom, service workers, autoworkers, etc.), I am a little bit shell-shocked these days and I still wonder if Ridley would deserve WGA representation in a potential arbitration case? He probably does, if he's still a dues-paying and maybe an “active, supporting member” of late.

          I know this may be a little off-subject here, but the the EMERGING TAINT of this whole McQueen-Ridley feud has left me with a sour taste and I really wonder if this dedicated “awards-season COVERUP” really hoodwinked voters when it came to AMPAS, SAG, WGA, BAFTA, PGA and the other award shows bestowing “12 Years a Slave” its “best picture” honors???!!!

          Maybe AMPAS, SAG, PGA, BAFTA and the other orgs realy need to investigate this whole coverup/imbroglio between the ‘connections” behind “12 Years a Slave” to possible offer up at least a symbolic “censure” of them or even revoking “Best Picture” awards — you know, like the NCAA does with a CROOKED college football or basketball program???!!! Maybe it's just me, but I can't help feeling a bit CONNED/PLAYED when it comes to this whole COVERUP here??

          • guest

            How about they award a film based on what's on the screen…

          • harveywilkinson

            Umm they do. No one (well, virtually no one) reads the nominated scripts, they only vote based on the actual film. The question here is who created the literary material which ended up on the screen.

        • Maliciousboy

          a scab is a scab regardless of whether he admits his position or not. I would have preferred Ridley not so publicly dissing the Guild, as it weakened the image of the guild when so prominent a writer spoke out against their objectives.

      • harveywilkinson

        Good points, although I can't say McQueen and Ridley are both equally culpable in the scenario. It's stupefying that McQueen seems to have no appreciation for the fact this project wouldn't exist if Ridley hadn't written it ON SPEC — i.e. he invested his own talent and blood and sweat into this without getting paid a dime. Odd that McQueen seems to have a fascination with the commodification of human beings and human labor, but is so eager to claim credit on a supremely profitable endeavor which only exists on the back of someone who worked for free to get it off the ground floor.

        Ridley is not acting like he's part of a “den of thieves” by standing up for his work or his credit.

        But yes, at the same time, Ridley's decision to go fi-core during the strike was kind of disgusting.

    • Jeff Sneider

      If it automatically goes to arbitration, then why didn't go to arbitration? Are you implying McQueen never made the request?

      • tinkero

        Mr. McQueen may have made the request– out of ignorance.

        Many people– including some directors– don't know the director rule, like the above reporter. t

        Two writers who are NOT a Producer or Director MAY agree to split credit prior to any arbitration–and the WGA will honor that side decision.

        BUT… if one of the writers is a director or Producer– there can be NO side decision. It is an AUTO Arbitration (for the resins earlier mentioned– to protect the full-time writer).

        Mr. McQueen may indeed have asked, but Mr. Ridley could not have “turned down the request” as the article states. It was NOT in his power to stop the arbitration.

        • tinkero

          I see– you are saying that Mr. McQueen asked for shared credit during the development process?

          That is slightly different. And indeed much murkier water.

          And if it did NOT go to arbitration, I would assume that is because Mr. McQueen did not actually pursue his desire for writing credit with the WGA. Hence he must not have really thought he had a good case. So why is that Ridley's fault?

          So…. McQueen felt he could “ask” (read intimidate) the writer into sharing credit when the writer was alone… but when the writer said “I don't feel you deserve it”, rather than pursue an honest case with the WGA, Mr. McQueen decided to bitch and moan about it instead with Pitt, the studio, etc. But not with the people who could help him, if his case was just– namely the WGA.

          Apparently, if that is the case, even Mr. McQueen knew he could not win, and therefore DID NOT PURSUE “his” credit. Hence no arbitration.

          Again– NOT Mr. Ridleys decision.

          And in the end, when actual push comes to shove (namely OFFICIALLY requesting credit)…. even Mr. McQueen knew he did not deserve credit.

          You certainly make it sound as though it was all Mr. Ridley's decision– when it was all Mr. McQueen's

        • jrj548

          I'm sure the general public had no idea about what was going on and could care less. Hollywood egos are so large that all of these petty arguments really matter to anyone but themselves. They all got paid for their work and who cares about the rest of it.

    • temperance lancecouncil

      Thanks for the clarification. Well said.

    • Maliciousboy

      Here is the thing — if the writers are considered a “team” then arbitration is not automatic. Could that be what McQueen was asking for? If so, there wouldn't be a reason to arbitrate. Also, there are many instances of directors taking over credit without the guild stopping them, read about Spielberg and “Close Encounter of the Third Kind” in the book “You'll Never Eat Lunch in this Town Again.” I've done 3 films where I shared credit. In all three I was a writer director. In none was there an arbitration. I wrote a film that had a second writer. There was an arbitration on that one. There is not ALWAYS an arbitration.

      • tinkero

        Mal– first– apparently that was what mr. sneider meant– though his writing was quite unclear that Mr. McQueen was asking for credit as a “team” during development.

        Secondly, CE3K was, um… almost 40 years ago, and I cannot speak to the guild rules then. T

        hirdly, if you ask for credit post-FIRST DRAFT, and you are a director or Producer, you are 100% incorrect– there is (at least in the last 15 years I have been a WGA member) ALWAYS an arbitration. it is indeed AUTOMATIC.

        Read the MBA.

        Them are the rules.

      • RBBrittain

        If you're the sole writer-director, there shouldn't be any arbitration because there's nobody to arbitrate WITH (i.e., a competing writer). There was NO automatic arbitration here because both Ridley and (more importantly) Fox Searchlight refused to credit McQueen, thus the automatic arbitration rule wasn't invoked. (McQueen could have asked for arbitration, but I suspect the decision was kept quiet till after the deadline passed; that probably made him only madder.)

      • BRobCleveland

        I have a question — in labor law and real estate (i.e., commission disputes), you only have an arbitration if someone requests arbitration. You say “arbitration is automatic.” Does that mean arbitration occurs without anyone asking for it?

        If no, I have to assume that McQueen wanted credit (like a real estate agent wanting to split a commission because they did some of the work) but did not press it to arbitration after Pitt informally sided with Ridley on the issue.

  • Interested Party

    As a bit of “education”, there is no automatic arbitration UNLESS the director (or producer) is submitted to the guild for credit by the producing/guild signatory entity. If I were to speculate, I'd assume that what is meant by “McQueen asked Ridley to share credit” is that McQueen asked Ridley to be supportive of getting the producer to submit his name with Ridley's to the guild for the purposes of determining credit. If the producers submitted Ridley as a sole credit writer, the only way there would be a need for the “automatic arbitration” would be if McQueen as a guild member (is he?) protested the credit submission and/or determination and forced the arbitration. But even in doing so, he would need to have documentation of his writing contribution. And then he would have lost.

    • writer

      Also, as far as automatic arbitration due to McQueen being the director… this would have been cancelled out by the fact that Ridley was also some type of producer on the film. So unless McQueen formally protested the studios Notice of Tentative Credit (where apparently they believed sole credit belonged to Ridley) by arbitrating, in this situation, there would not be automatic arbitration. McQueen either knew he didn't meet the threshold or didn't want to mar the film with an arbitration.

      • RBBrittain

        Ridley was NOT a credited producer. Fox Searchlight clearly submitted Ridley alone because arbitration would have been automatic *IF* they had included McQueen, but *NOT* with just Ridley. By making it non-automatic, McQueen might not have known what was going on till it was too late to arbitrate the credit.

        • writer

          Wrong. He is credited as an exec producer. That counts.

    • FeeFiFoeFum

      Ridley isn't part of any guilds. He left the WGA during the last writers stike. Ergo there was no one for McQueen to appeal to.

      • Interested Party

        You missed the part where it was pointed out that the studio is signatory. They very likely submitted a Notice of Tentative Writing Credit with their proposed credit reflecting Ridley as sole credit.

  • Q&A goer

    As I understand the situation from attending Q&As for SHAME, Steve McQueen researched with Abby Morgan, gave feedback and talked to her about story points and storyline, and then she went off and wrote the script.

    It didn't sound as though McQueen ever touched a keyboard. Yet he shared screenplay credit with her. It didn't feel to me as though he deserved screenplay credit – yet Abby remained in his good books and they did publicity together.

    I wonder if he actually wrote any of HUNGER?

    • harveywilkinson

      Good points. McQueen's lack of track record as a screenwriter in his own right severely undercut his claims. It's not like he's Tarantino.

      Giving notes is not writing. Steering a project creatively is not writing. Doing research is not writing. Acquiring source material is not writing. These types of things may require a lot of work and may be important to the project but THEY ARE NOT WRITING.

      Having to ask for a writing credit after the fact tells us everything we need to know. If McQueen had been by Ridley's side actually GENERATING WRITTEN PAGES with Ridley there would be no controversy. McQueen apparently thinks giving notes equals writing. He really should get into development.

      • mchasewalker

        Good for Ripley for not conceding. It's time for writers to stand up to the idea of director's overreach. Nowadays, more and more producers/directors believe that contributing ideas is the same as writing. It is not. An idea, scene, dialogue or plot point is nothing until it is written down and sequed into the screenplay by a real writer.

        • Q&A goer

          Exactly. A lot of the work of the screenwriter overlaps with that of the director – cinematic storytelling.

          But if the director's not there at the keyboard doing 50% of the work of putting words on page, then the director is just doing the directing job, not the writing job.

          I've seen too many examples of writers giving in to directors demands for credit in the fear that their film won't get made. I questioned a friend of mine about the director's co-credit (outside the WGA system) – I'd read the draft prior to the ‘director's draft', and it was pretty much what was on screen. He mumbled… ‘well the director did make some changes and made it his own, he made it better'…

          But that's the job of the director – to take ownership of the work and to play with it so that they really understand it and can do the work of getting it onto the screen. That's the work of being a director – don't then steal someone else's credit. Otherwise the editor and the actors and the DOP would all be taking writing credits too… Grr.

        • arghhh matey

          You have just described the scenario for much copyright theft against writers. The thief steals a screenplay and slaps together some similar “ideas” and calls it their own writing and coincidence.

          • mchasewalker

            Hence register and record all submissions timely and properly. The law says everything is copyrighted the second you write, paint, record or memorialize it. It is the registration process that protects you.

          • arghhh matey

            Yes, and unfortunately it's a layer of protection but not a preventive measure as we've all seen

    • tinkero

      It always makes me wonder: when a Director gives notes to an actor, why does he/she consider that directing and not “co-acting”? When a director looks through a camera lens and gives the DP notes (less shadow there, let's move the camera four inches to the left), why does he/she not seek shared DP credit?

      And yet… give a writer notes– and the director considers themselves co-writer!

  • Truthseekingmissle

    The defining information in this article is John Ridley has done this before with 3 kings. Once is happenstance. twice coincidence. The third time is enemy action.

    I await a third Director having issue with Ridley wherein we will then associate the problem with the Problem maker.

    • LadyDyke

      True, but….see what harveywilkinson says below. Ridley may or not be a prick, but seems like McQueen didn't have a real case to demand a screen-writing credit.

    • Q&A goer

      Protecting your due credit, trying to protect your IP, speaking up when people try to trample on them… Shocking behaviour.

      Read this from Wikipedia, put yourself in John Ridley's screenwriting shoes, and see who you'd think was the jerk –

      Former stand-up comic John Ridley had originally written the screenplay, then titled Spoils of War, as an experiment to see how fast he could write and sell a film. The writing took him seven days, and Warner Bros. bought the script 18 days later. When the studio showed a list of their purchased scripts to Russell, the one-sentence description of Spoils of War, “heist set in the Gulf War”, appealed to him. Although Russell claimed he never read Ridley's script, so as not “to pollute my own idea”, he admits that “John gets credit where it's due. The germ of the idea that I took was his.”[2] Ridley maintains that Russell shut him out of the process, saying “I never heard a word while he was shooting the movie. Never saw any of the script changes. And then finally, a year later, I get a copy of the script, and my name isn't even on it.”[3] Although Warner Bros. worked out a deal to give Ridley a “story by” credit, Ridley remains unhappy with the experience, and has blocked Russell's efforts to publish the Three Kings screenplay in book form.[3]

    • BRobCleveland

      You don't read so good, do you?

      With “Three King,” Ridley had “Written by” credit taken away and it went to the director. This time, he fought to retain the sole writing credit when the director wanted it shared, and he prevailed. So it was the exact opposite situation (losing all writing credit to the director versus sharing it) and exact opposite result (receiving no writing credit versus retaining 100% credit).

      But other than that, you are right on the money . . . .

    • Rational

      In life, you have to evaluate each circumstance on its own merits. It's lazy to say someone has had X situation before so this time they must be wrong. Don't serve on any juries!

  • Nettrice

    After reading that Esquire article Ridley wrote in 2006… I side with McQueen.

    • Dede

      Yeah!! This Ridley guy is something else. His 2006 article is disturbing. He seems shady.

    • BRobCleveland

      That's a great reason to parcel out credit in 2013 . . . because of an article someone wrote seven years before. Makes perfect sense to me!

      [continues smoking meth]

  • Clarkkent113

    Now that 12 Years won (well deserved), I'm sure we'll get even more details in the coming days/weeks. I just think all parties, apparently especially Pitt, deserve credit for putting differences aside publicly so as not to distract from the film itself. If McQueen and Ridley's relationship was that strained no one was the wiser until last night.

  • UdonNo

    SOLOMON is rolling over in his grave!

    • Jacquie

      I read that Solomon Northup doesn't have a grave. No one knows how he died. There is no record of his after 1857.

  • ssilva872

    Wow I had no idea people hated each other so much behind the scenes!

    At least it ended up okay since they both won Oscars.

  • blogdiz

    I’m actually instinctively more on McQueens side with this one I do believe he genuinely had some input especially after fnding out that Ridley wrote that God awful screenplay for that God Awful Movie ” Red tails about the Tuskegee airmen

    McQueen may have an ego but based on his past work Shame etc and his camraderie with the cast and crew and his willingness to give credit where its due I dunno more inclined to fee that its Ridley who is being the jerk

    • tinkero

      Credits are NOT determined by past credits. Thankfully.

      And of course McQueen “had some input”. That's what directors DO. They give input. To Actors. Costume Designers. DPs. Sound Mixers. Editors. Etc.

      But oddly, it's only the input into the script that they ask to share credit for.

      ……Thank you, autuer theory!

    • Nichkhun

      I doubt he actually sit down and wrote anything on the script. Giving notes isn't the same.

    • BRobCleveland

      That is about the dumbest rationale for giving McQueen credit I have heard, especially given that even CO-PRODUCER BRAD PITT did not think he deserved writing credit.

  • tinkero

    Mr. Sneider has, as the below storm can demonstrate, written a below-standard piece of “journalism”, even for a Hollywood beat reporter.

    In defense of his “reporting” he has stated: “The article isn't about who denied McQueen credit”.

    And yet…The very SECOND sentence of the article reads: “Ridley turned down McQueen’s request for shared screenplay credit, TheWrap has learned.”

    Seems to me Mr. Sneider's actual LEDE is about who “denied McQueen credit”!!!! Ergo, so is the story…

    Or do we now need to discus what a “lede” is? Sigh… perhaps we do:

    a lede, according to wiki, “precedes the main body of the article, and it gives the reader the main idea of the story.” MAIN IDEA OF STORY.

    Wriggle all you want Mr. Sneider, but your article is indeed about “who denied McQueen credit”.

    In fact your own use of the word “denied,” implies your bias to Mr. McQueen, does it not? The definition of deny is: a state that one refuses to admit the truth or existence of.

    What “truth” do you think Mr. McQueen is being “denied”, if not “his” screenplay credit?

    We work in an anti-writer, pro-director business. That is reality. You are simply another cog in the process, Mr. Sneider.

    • harveywilkinson

      Spot on. Sneider defends his piece by claiming he does not expressly state that it is common for writers to share screenplay credit with directors who ask, even though this is OBVIOUSLY A HUGE AND CENTRAL POINT OF THE WHOLE ARTICLE and a central takeaway for readers.

      Is there already a well-established and honored process for determining screenplay credit in Hollywood? Yes, but the article never mentions it. Was the script subject to WGA arbitration? We don't know. Did it actually undergo arbitration? We have no idea. What is a screenplay arbitration in the first place? Are they confidential? Don't know, don't know, don't know. This could go on and on. Shocking that an article entirely about a screenplay credit dispute offers the reader ABSOLUTELY NO information on script arbitration or how credit is typically determined in the industry. Reporting fail on virtually all fronts.

      • tinkero

        Pretty sad.

        As I said, we work in an anti-writer, pro-director business. That is reality. Mr. Sneider is simply another cog in the process.

  • Paw

    Wealthy 1%-ers fighting over nothing. Welcome to Hollywood

  • http://www.cynthiarous.webs.com/ phoenixliterary

    In a climate where it is almost impossible to actually get a feature financed, shot and released; all of these folks are so incredibly lucky to actually be working that any type of recognition or award is really just icing on the cake.

  • http://www.cynthiarous.webs.com/ phoenixliterary

    Harrison Ford, Tom Cruise, Kevin Costner, John Malkovich, John Travolta, DiCaprio, Redford, Brad Pitt, Sharon Stone, Glenn Close and Sigourney Weaver are only a few of the great actors who have never won an acting Oscar. Neither did Cary Grant, Bogart, Monroe or Garbo. None of them ever won an acting Oscar. It is rather hard to believe but they look not only for performance, they also look for universal theme, politics they can believe in, technical brilliance, and performances that never break focus. 85% of the films that are nominated are released in the last 6 weeks of the year. In order to actually win I think you have to be a symbol of something larger than the character you portray. Independent films have better parts for actors. Popcorn films are where the paychecks are. The entire industry of scripted entertainment is constricting so it is even more difficult to actually get one done.

    • Amigo

      Humphrey Bogart won Best Actor for “The African Queen”.

      • http://www.cynthiarous.webs.com/ phoenixliterary

        Well, I stand corrected, as that time period is a bit before my time. Maybe it was Clark Gable or Cary Grant that never won. I know it was one of the idols. Also Burton, Peter O'Toole never won. Many excellent actors and actresses never win so all of these folks should be happy for the gig.

        • Tim Marshall

          Gable won in 1934, but you are right about Grant. In the end, it is all about the gig. As long as they keep hiring you for films then it's all good.

    • Nichkhun

      Perhaps they were unlucky, as DiCaprio, who turns in strong performances concidentally in years other people turn in stroger performances.

  • Jaye

    Wait. ..Steve McQueen has a wife??? Lol

    • Nichkhun

      I was under the strong impression he was a McQueen.

  • Von

    So typical, folks just can't celebrate the awards that this film has received without always searching for anything negative that they can find. Let them be excellent because they've earned the accolades! If anyone deserves a mention it should be Dr.Sue Eakin, who researched this book and brought Northrup's story to the world whose name didn't even appear in the credits.

    • Tim Marshall

      Why would It? She had nothing to do with the film nor with the writing of it. But at least McQueen acknowledged her, something Ridley did not.

    • BRobCleveland

      She was mentioned by one of the recipients (McQueen, I think), because I immediately googled her to she what her role was.

  • Rasool Ali

    Steve McQueen is a idol worshiper

  • DReview

    He who can't share, has nothing to give!

  • Jeffrey

    Oh man, that “clap” is priceless.

  • Robert Lee

    This movie – 12 years a slave – did not even mention about 3700 black, African-American slave owners. No mentioning that first, official slave owner was black, Anthony Johnson.

    • BRobCleveland

      No one mentioned it BECAUSE IT IS BULLSH*T!!!!

      • Barbara

        It's actually not bullshit. The first slave owner in America was indeed a black man named Anthony Johnson (he went to court to get ownership of an indentured servant of his, whom he felt had violated his contract. He won, and the man officially became Johnson's slave and the first legal slave in what would become the United States. And yes, there were actually thousands of black slave owners from the dawn of American slavery to the end of the Civil War. There were also many black slave traders, auctioneers, etc. Many of them were former slaves themselves, but not all.

        That said, the reason these facts were not mentioned in the film was because that was simply not what the film was about. This movie followed the story of Solomon Northup, who himself only had white owners and only encountered white slave traders. That's just the way his experience went. That said, it is worth pointing out that although white people did put him in slavery, it was also white people who got him out. U.S. slavery was certainly a complicated issue, and it went far beyond whites = evil slavers and blacks = innocent victims. The issue literally was not “black and white”, and we shouldn't see it that way.

  • Frank

    Hey McQueen, just give Ridley co-directing credit and then you should be good!

  • Jayne

    I don't know why I am siding with McQueen. At least McQueen acted with Grace.

  • Kitty Smarm

    From the Horses Mouth y'all….
    According to Ridley, speaking to The New York Post from inside the Vanity Fair Oscar Party after the ceremony, there's absolutely no feud between he and McQueen. His words:

    “Listen, without Steve McQueen I wouldn’t have this Oscar tonight [...] I owe a lot to the genius of Steve McQueen, and I am forever grateful to have had the chance to work with him [...] I had less than two minutes to thank everybody, and I was so caught up in the emotion of the moment when I was onstage [...] It was Steve’s wife who found Solomon Northup’s book. It was a great honor, but also a challenge because I wanted to be true to him, to turn Solomon’s eloquent words into a screenplay.”

    • BRobCleveland

      Classy response . . . .

  • Bill Chamberlain

    Who gives a “Rats Ass”??? the movie was GREAT, and the credit is bestowed upon the contributors!!!! FUCK THE TITLES/ACCREDITATION, JUST BE WORTHY OF YOUR ROLE!!!!!!

    • harveywilkinson

      The credit determination on a screenplay determines who receives the residual payments for years to come. It's a big deal. For many screenwriters it is the only income they'll see for years on end as they wait for other projects to get produced. For screenwriters — who typically make significantly less than the stars and director and producers of their movies — residual payments can mean the difference between sending your kids to college or not. To be clear, half of Ridley's future earnings is what McQueen was asking for (McQueen, who incidentally, was already being handsomely paid as a director and producer of the movie). So, Ridley and his family give a rat's ass. As do other screenwriters who are acutely aware of any precedent of directors bullying their way into writing credits and screenwriter's income. Of course, Sneider never mentions any of this in the article, but this is not about hogging limelight at an awards’ show. It's about putting food on the table.

      • Name

        Important point, well stated

      • blue439

        Well said. It's not (primarily) about egos. It's about bread on the table. McQueen is already going to make a lot more than Ridley as director and co-producer — then he wants half of the writer's share as well? Come on. Also, after 3 Kings Ridley is not going to let another director run roughshod over him.

  • SandraHvar

    “Most civilized discussion in an online comments section” Oscar goes to this thread. Kudos to all.

  • Jones

    Ridley is not a great writer to begin withe so I get why McQueen wants some credit.

  • legal eagle

    McQueen is a dick….He needs to step on others to burnish his resume because he knows that the next film he directs could be his last, while screenwriters can survive much longer….

  • KarenChicago

    From the comments, if it's true that the 2011 draft copy has McQueen on title page as co-writer, then Ridley needs to “Do The Right THing” and give McQueen the co-credit!! As a screenwriter myself, I have done that with one of my scripts.

  • frankspeakloud

    Steve M. should just be happy the film was made and has done so well. What's the freakin’ difference now? What does he expect to gain? Residuals? Accolades to stroke his ego? WTF! His movie just won Best Picture. Please, show some class.

  • Counselorchick

    I read the script before viewing my screener. The script is so much better than the film, it was disappointing to say the very least. This is not about the credit for Ridley. This is about the integrity of the storytelling. Ridley wrote the script on spec, it was so good that it still took home best picture even though McQueen skipped over some of the most brilliant, heart wrenching and forward moving parts. This film could have been truly great if McQueen had not fucked it up. Seriously, read the screenplay and you'll understand. For example, how he ended up a slave was far more flushed out and believable … And this is just one issue. All directors change screenplays, but McQueen just brushed over the literally seconds of screen time that were in the script that could of and should of been realized. Everything in the finished product is less than what Ridley wrote. I would be pissed too. In fact, I was… And am.