Screenwriter Nicholas Kazan is warning WGA members that internal squabbling “could destroy our union.” In a passionate plea for civility during the guild’s ongoing election and showdown with Hollywood’s talent agents, Kazan — who’s running for the WGA West’s board as a member of opposition leader Phyllis Nagy’s slate of running mates — said in a statement, “This Guild is in crisis.”
“It’s not the crisis you think,” said Kazan, the Oscar-nominated writer of Reversal of Fortune. “It’s not whether or how to negotiate with the Association of Talent Agents or the individual talent agencies. The crisis is internal. The agency campaign has divided membership in a dangerous and unprecedented way, turning writer against writer, friend against friend…in an atmosphere dominated by distrust and vitriol.”
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Kazan, who has been a member of the guild since 1976. “We need to remember: we’re all writers, cursed and blessed. We hear voices, have visions, and we write them down. And we all want the same things: Respect. To see our work made, and to be properly compensated for it.
“And we are grateful to have a Guild that fights for us, protects us, helps us achieve those things. As a group of individuals, we now (as ever) have varying opinions. Those disagreements are about tactics. But due to the anger and acrimony and the moral veneer that has been cast over what is largely an economic action, we find ourselves deeply and perilously divided at a personal level.”
“That division is potentially lethal,” he said. “It could destroy our union. That’s not hyperbole, it’s fact.”
“Like all social groups, unions exist through the consent of the governed,” he wrote. “If a sizable group of writers begins to feel the Guild no longer represents them…if they are mocked for even proposing a different approach or vilified for expressing a contrarian point of view, that consent will shatter and writers will abandon the WGA – because they feel the WGA has abandoned them. As a result: the Guild will lose its strength, its authority, and its ability to effectively negotiate with the AMPTP in 2020. That’s why I’m writing this. That’s what I fear.”
“So I write today not to ask for your vote,” he said, “but instead to ask for your compassion, your civility, your ability as a writer to feel for others…in this case: for other writers. I ask you to open your minds and hearts and listen. Otherwise who are we? What are we? What are we becoming?”