WGA leaders David Goodman and Chris Keyser have this week explained for Deadline readers the guild’s position driving its quest to eradicate Big 4 agency packaging and affiliated production companies. That doesn’t mean there aren’t working writers who believe that the strong point that has been made should be followed by a return to the bargaining table to find a compromise.
Deadline has heard there have been dozens of letters, emails and phone calls made and sent to leadership by working writers, some of whom have told us their hope is not to undermine the guild, but to create a course correction that leads to a resolution. Deadline was slipped one such letter, written by TV/film writer Brandon Camp (Dragonfly), film & TV writer-director Peter Landesman (Concussion), and film/TV writer Phyllis Nagy (Carol). Dated April 30, the following letter was given to WGA leadership this week.
Dear WGA Leadership and Negotiating Committee,
We are working writers in both feature and television. There are many more behind us waiting for the answers you give us, organized to follow up alone and collectively. We are writing to you because we are torn. On the one hand, we agree TV packaging has gotten out of hand. On the other, we have serious qualms about the Guild’s tactics in righting this situation. Its methodology has seemed belligerent at times. Meanwhile, leadership’s tone toward its own members has seemed outright threatening, especially toward those who have chosen to dissent from the path you are on. Let us be clear: this is not a labor action, it is not a strike, it is a contract renegotiation. You cannot coerce solidarity, especially when the facts are murky. Dissent— even public dissent— is our right, and the narrative that it weakens the Guild is an authoritarian, anti-democratic argument, and we reject it outright.
To begin with, we would urge you to talk differently about and to the ATA. Packaging is a fixable problem. Using rhetoric like “criminal,” “racketeering” and “RICO statutes” is an overreach. It undermines our credibility as watchdogs and artists. We work in a complex and fragile ecosystem held together by nuanced relationships, and by some of the very so-called conflicts of interest you are seeking to sanitize. Many of us benefit from packaging. Many more still can. To be sure, we can stack the decks more fairly, but the entertainment industry is not about the redistribution of wealth. What this is about is getting our share off the top, not about our righteous indignation. So, no, we don’t see this as a political revolution. The narrative that this is a “power move” against faceless “corporate interests” is a cynical misdirect.
The path you have taken thus far is a good way to whip up anger and confusion among writers, many of whom are now more frightened than they were before, but it’s a terrible way to create public policy, or get us what we need and deserve.
No one put us up to writing to you today. We are not in touch with the ATA. We appreciate you, we respect our colleagues, we need our Guild, and we need our agents. We want to help you preserve the fragile ecosystem that feeds all of us, but we believe the path you are on is destructive. We want you back at that table with the ATA without delay, with the attitude to close— and not confuse or dissemble— a deal. If that is not your intent, then why are you leading our Guild?
Brandon Camp, Peter Landesman, Phyllis Nagy