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John Wells Elected WGA President

Election ends hard-fought campaign full of mudslinging.

John Wells is once again President of the Writers Guild of America West.


The prolific producer won a heated election against Elias Davis, narrowly defeating the Writers United candidate with 52.8 percent of the vote.


It will be the second two-year term for Wells, who headed the guild from 1999-2001 and is widely viewed as a moderate voice who was instrumental in avoiding a work stoppage during his first term.


Wells' victory, however, was hardly a rebuke for the more activist-minded Writers United coalition, which under incumbent president Partic Verrone, spearheaded the 100-day writers strike in 2007-'08.


Indeed, Davis -- the incumbent guild secretary who served as a close ally under Verrone -- was defeated. However, Tom Schulman, another Verrone ally, was elected to serve as Vice President, while Verrone himself was one of nine candidates elected to serve on the guild's board of directors. Current Secretary-Treasurer David Weiss was re-elected.


By all accounts, it was heated campaign, with Verrone several weeks ago publishing a memo chastising Wells for, among other things, getting too cozy with the Directors Guild of America, the more moderate org activist guild members everywhere love to hate. Wells published his own biting reply shortly afterward.


The sum total to all this back-and-forth might have spurred the biggest voter turnout in WGA West history, with 2348 valid ballots casts.


Discussing the election with TheWrap hours before the vote Thursday, Wells attempted to strike a collegial tone.


He called the Writers United-led strike "necessary," explaining there was no other way for the guild to secure acceptable terms with the studios on new media negotiations going forward.


However, he conceded that he was "disappointed with the amount of rancor that came out of this campaign."


For his part, Verrone told TheWrap that he thinks he still has "something to contribute" as a member of the board of directors, but he dismissed the notion that Writers United will function as any kind of opposition party working to steer the guild in an activist, pro-strike direction.


"Writers United, as a going concern, is not a big part of this election, even though our opponents seem to be throwing out that moniker a lot these days," Verrone said Thursday.


Other guild members elected to the board include Howard Rodman, Dan Wilcox, Linda Burstyn, Billy Ray, Steven Schwartz, Chip Johannessen, Carleton Eastlake and Ian Deitchman.


Meanwhile, in defeat, Davis also seemed to put forth a cooperative agenda.


"My congratulations to John Wells for his success in a hard-fought campaign," he said in as statement. We writers can be somewhat argumentative and opinionated, as anyone who has ever sat around a writers' table knows.


This campaign certainly highlighted some of our differences. Now, it's time to pull together and work for the benefit of us all."