William Schmidt has dropped out of the race for president of the WGA West and is throwing his support to opposition candidate Phyllis Nagy. He made his announcement tonight at the guild’s Candidates Night forum.
With Schmidt out of the running, the presidential race comes down to Nagy vs. incumbent David A. Goodman. Schmidt’s name still will appear on the ballots, which go out to members Thursday, but he’s urging his supporters to vote for Nagy. Ballots will be counted on September 16.
Schmidt, a longshot candidate who had virtually no chance of winning, has been on a crusade to persuade the guild to abandon its plans to hold disciplinary hearings for writers who refused – like he did – to fire their agents. Ordering members to do so, he maintains, violates the guild’s own constitution.
Schmidt remains the only writer who has publicly refused to fire his agent. He’s said he’s told his agent not to procure work or negotiate contracts for him until the ongoing battle with the Association of Talent Agents is over and says that’s enough to comply with the guild’s constitution and working rules. At last count, more than 7,000 writers have fired their agents who refused to sign the guild’s Code of Conduct.
He made that same argument again tonight in his remarks at the candidates’ forum, an advance copy of which he provided to Deadline. This is what he had to say:
“When Guild leaders dismiss, demean, call “scabs” or worse, threaten tribunals for anyone who dare disagree with them, they are not leaders, but dividers.
“When they call “take it or leave it” oﬀers “negotiating” and blame others for destroying “momentum” when they’ve only signed three out of the 18 boutique agencies, and in ﬁve months, they are dissembling.
“When they say things like, “Agents aren’t our allies” and “we’re THE most powerful union!” they aren’t speaking intellectually, but irrationality.
“When they make long faces, sad eyes when they talk about “casualties”, and pretend these people’s pain wasn’t caused by friendly ﬁre, by them, it’s hypocrisy. And when they make the rank and ﬁle pay for an agency campaign that can only beneﬁt them, well, when Jimmy Hoﬀa did it, it was deemed corruption.When all this happens, and it has, this administration is not a success, it is a failure.
“Fortunately, in this election, we have another, better, way to go. We have a candidate who is brilliant, bold, rational. A good and decent person who can lead us out of this quagmire, and back to unity and full strength. Who started a Go Fund Me page and raised $50,000 to get some of those casualties, six young families, their health care back, for no other reason than it was the right thing to do.
“I”m talking about a born leader. Phyllis Nagy.
“As I did with David (Goodman), I broke bread with Phyllis and got to know her through emails. She is conversant with every issue facing ﬁlm and TV writers. And there is no daylight between what she believes and what I believe. I deeply admire her quiet strength. She has the goods to knock out great deals with the ATA and the AMPTP.
“As of this moment, I am leaving the race and endorsing Phyllis. I have asked my friends and supporters to vote for her. That’s what I’m going to do. And I’m proud to do it.”