(Steven Schwartz is running for the WGAw’s Board of Directors and has been endorsed by WGA presidential candidate John Wells. Tonight, he posted this on the Writer Action board, and it is currently making the email rounds):
I’m now willing to give details I wouldn’t when I first posted about these issues, in the Wells vs Gelbart thread and in of that same thread.
My reasons for not giving details earlier had to do with maintaining Guild unity and respecting personal confidences. Both of those reasons seem now to have been removed.
First, none of my information in any of these posts came from John Wells. I was not in any way protecting Wells. I was attempting to protect the Guild itself and John Bowman and David Young.
The first time I heard of Wells’ involvement was in October 07. I was told by John Bowman. We were in our caucus room at the AMPTP during those October negotiations. We had many, many breaks in that period. We were discussing efforts to keep the DGA out of things. We were using everyone we could to keep the DGA out. Bowman specifically mentioned Wells. I don’t recall if Bowman said he called Wells or if Gil Cates (DGA chief negotiator) had called Wells and Wells then called Bowman. In any case, what Bowman said was that Cates didn’t know or trust Verrone, Young, or Bowman and since, Cates had a good realationship with Wells, that Wells might be helpful keeping the DGA on the side. None of this seemed like a big deal or of much interest, except as testimony to the breakdown between the WGA and DGA leaders.
The next time I heard was late November 07 (though it may have been early December; I’m still not home and don’t have access to my notes.) We were in our caucus room at the hotel we were using for negotiations. I can check the hotel and date when I’m home, if anyone cares. This time I heard it from David Young. We were, again, doing everything we could to keep the DGA on the sidelines. Young mentioned Wells as one of those people. This, again, didn’t seem to be a big deal. We all wanted the DGA to stay out.
The third time I heard was in January 08. This time I heard it from Bowman. This was in that period where the DGA was having informal negotiations with the AMPTP to determine whether to have formal negotiations. (I think this was, for us on NegCom, the most depressing period.)
I don’t know who asked who but the gist was that Wells, again because of his relationship to Cates, was pushing Cates to take a tougher line. The idea being that if he didn’t, the DGA made a deal, and we rejected it, then Cates would like look a complete ass.
It’s important people understand that Wells couldn’t “negotiate with the DGA.” No one knew what issues we were willing to give on, which we weren’t, nor what the acceptable deal range was for any item. We never established these, even among ourselves. This was at David Young’s urging and it was very smart. Each of us had been asked to develop our own deal range, but no one knew what anyone else’s was, and no one knew where the NegCom came out collectively. None of us knew, not even Verrone, Young or Bowman knew, so there was no way Wells could know.
In other posts I mention the special Jan 19 NegCom meeting held at John Bowman’s house. (East members were not in attendance.) Bowman did a straightforward presentation of the DGA deal. He had no idea if we’d hate it or love it or be somewhere in between. But after discussion we agreed unanimously it could form the basis of our own deal, though we had to deal with writer-specific issues and there were areas we hoped to improve. Bowman wanted to hear our reaction before revealing his. He agreed it could be the basis for our deal.
The person, at the end of the meeting who said “John Wells did us a big favor” was John Bowman. And he said it twice.
Some people were pissed about the ‘Dear Jim’ letter, some thought it useful, most didn’t care. Bowman said it was something Wells felt he had to do for Cates, who came a long way in his ‘ask’, in case we rejected the deal and kept on strike. And let’s be clear: we always had the right to reject that deal.
At the time, we didn’t spend that much time discussing the letter. We spent far more time discussing the possibility of bringing in outside legal counsel.
BTW, I was surprised no one on this board asked or speculated why Bowman wanted a meeting without the officers present.
There’s more I could say but I’ll leave things here, at least for now. The rest starts moving into opinion while the above is reportage.