Robert King Says Phyllis Nagy Is “Radically Unprepared” To Lead WGA West

Robert King Michelle King
Robert and Michelle King at the winter TCA Frank Micelotta/PictureGroup/Shutterstock

Robert King, the creator and co-showrunner of The Good Wife and The Good Fight, thinks that John Wells’ support of Phyllis Nagy for president of the WGA West is not a good idea.

Wells, a former two-time president of the guild, sent a message to the guild’s members today urging them to vote for Nagy and her slate of running mates – and called on the guild to return to the bargaining table with the Association of Talent Agents. King, however, maintains that Nagy not only doesn’t have the experience to lead the guild, but is “radically unprepared” to do so.

“I have great respect for John Wells and his guild service, but I take exception to his email urging guild members to vote for Phyllis Nagy for Writer’s Guild President,” he told Deadline. “He is against the current ATA negotiation strategy of the guild administration, and I understand that, even if I don’t completely sympathize. But to endorse a candidate who is so radically unprepared for the position of leadership seems not only irresponsible, but even a bit embarrassing.”

Nagy, he said, “has never held guild office, or been on a negotiation committee, or, as far as I can tell, on any guild committee. She is a guild novice. Even more important to me, she seems unaware of the TV issues that are going to determine our life in the next decade. Given that we’re heading into a contract negotiation with management, placing Ms. Nagy in the position of President rises to the level of malpractice.

“Months ago, I understood a recommendation for the Nagy slate when Craig Mazin was running for Vice-President. At least you could believe that Craig’s great experience and guild knowledge—I served with him on the credits committee—would offset Ms. Nagy’s inexperience, but once he dropped out, the calculation changed.”

Mazin, the Emmy-nominated creator of Chernobyl, dropped out of the race on July 31 due to a medical issue with an immediate family member.

“John Wells even seems to agree with this evaluation through his lack of any specifics recommending Ms. Nagy,” King said. “In fact, he never even mentions her or the Secretary-Treasurer candidate again in his endorsement. He spends the next twelve paragraphs discussing his disagreement with the ATA strategy, and he spends more time saying nice things about David Goodman and David Young than he does the candidates he recommends.

“Do we really need a lesson in why voting in an inexperienced one-issue candidate is a mistake? It doesn’t work in our country. And it won’t work in the guild. I have spent enough time in the guild (on the board and in negotiating committees) to know what I don’t know. And the worst board members and officers are the newest and least knowledgeable because they think it will be easy. The lack of experience has real world consequences.

“Having said that, there are people on the opposition slate I recommend for their experience and judgment. It helps that they have the humility to realize they should be board members before trying to be officers. I think Courtney Kemp is fantastic, as is Marc Guggenheim. I apparently disagree with them, but that’s not important. I think they will be the kind of experienced voices in opposition that are necessary. Likewise I’ve heard enough about Sarah Treem to feel the same.

“The bottom line: if you agree with John Wells on the issues, then I would write in Craig Mazin. Or Laeta Kalogridis. Or even John Wells. At least that’s a vote that makes some sense. It feels crazy to have to argue this again, but experience matters. Leaders, like surgeons or writers or even sword-swallowers, need more than a gut feeling about how their job works. They need experience. And John Wells’ officer candidates don’t have it.”

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