More than 300 Hollywood writers — including such heavy-hitters as Ryan Murphy, Shonda Rhimes and Ava DuVernay — have signed an open letter backing the challengers in the Writers Guild of America’s leadership election.
The group is endorsing screenwriter Phyllis Nagy in her challenge to WGA president David Goodman, as well as “Chernobyl” creator Craig Mazin for vice president and Nick Jones, Jr. for secretary-treasurer.
Nagy has been vocal in her criticism of the guild’s leadership in the ongoing dispute with Association of Talent Agents. In a recent interview, she said there “appears to be no strategy now from the leadership” when it comes to the agency impasse. The letter called for the dispute to be “in a negotiating room and not in a courtroom.”
Referencing the ATA dispute, the group called it “a fight that has huge financial consequences for our members especially in the area of residuals, and we believe this battle is best fought by a united, forward-thinking guild that is not entrenched in lawsuits.”
Among the other signatories are John Wells, Mark Boal, Steve Levitan, Kenya Barris, Greg Berlanti, Damien Chazelle, Dan Fogelman, Aaron Sorkin, David Benioff, Phil Lord, Chris Miller and Courtney Kemp.
The guild elections come amid an ongoing lawsuit brought by the guild against the four biggest agencies — William Morris Endeavor, United Talent Agency, Creative Artists Agency and ICM Partners — claiming that fees paid by a studio to agencies to package directors, writers, and other talent for a project (aka packaging fees) are a violation of agents’ fiduciary duty to their clients and against federal and state labor laws.
Meanwhile, WGA has reached agreements with midsize agencies Buchwald, Pantheon and Kaplan Stahler to break ranks with ATA and agree to the guild’s Code of Conduct, which requires agencies to eliminate packaging fees in order to represent writers.
Read the full text of the letter backing Nagy below and see the list of signatories here.
As members of the Writers Guild of America, we firmly believe that many agency practices are in need of major reform. We are grateful to the present leadership for bringing these matters to the fore.
And we believe this present situation is best resolved in a negotiating room and not in a courtroom.
Furthermore, we are facing a critical negotiation with the AMPTP, a fight that has huge financial consequences for our members especially in the area of residuals, and we believe this battle is best fought by a united, forward-thinking guild that is not entrenched in lawsuits.
Our union is strong enough to endure honest differences of opinion voiced by writers who are loyal to the guild and its mission, who are driven by their concern for our most vulnerable members, but who believe there is a different way to achieve our shared goals.
Phyllis Nagy, for President
Craig Mazin, for Vice President
and Nick Jones, Jr. for Secretary-Treasurer
are the best and strongest voices to lead our guild into its next chapter.
We are grateful to them for being willing to serve, and we are proud to endorse them.