An attorney by trade, Franklin was the longest-serving executive director of the WGA West, where he spent about two decades. He led the guild through the period that spanned the end of the Blacklist, the creation of its pension and health funds and the negotiation of residuals in perpetuity for films and TV programs.
“Mike went head-to-head with studio negotiators, including Lew Wasserman, and won unprecedented gains for writers in the 1960s and 1970s,” WGA West president David A. Goodman said in a statement.
“His amiable enthusiasm and dogged negotiating style enriched writers and protected their rights in ways that continue to serve us in today’s contracts. Mike was an early advocate for equal representation of women in the ranks of Hollywood writers. Mike led our important campaigns to prohibit morals clauses in writers’ contracts and to eliminate the family viewing hour. … We mark his passing with fond memories and generations of gratitude.”
The DGA hired Franklin in 1978 as its national executive director. In that role, he oversaw the negotiations that secured pay TV formulas for members working in what was, at that time, a nascent but rapidly growing genre. Franklin also established the current formula for home video residuals.
He served as the DGA’s top exec until 1987, when he was replaced by Glenn Gumpel.
The DGA said Franklin was a dedicated leader in the fight against hiring discrimination, and it was during his tenure that the guild’s first diversity committees were formed. He was named an Honorary Life Member of the DGA in 1988.
“Michael was a leader who, in partnership with the National Board, worked steadily towards improving the modern infrastructure of the DGA,” the DGA said in a statement. “He founded the legal, residuals, membership and signatories departments, and established the Guild’s ability to enforce contracts through the arbitration process.”