Fresh off the WGA’s historic victory over the talent agencies, WGA West president David A. Goodman opened his remarks tonight at the 73rd annual Writers Guild Awards with a good-natured poke at Ari Emanuel, the CEO of Endeavor, the parent company of WME, which was the last to sign the guild’s franchise agreement. “We’re recording this three weeks ahead of the ceremony,” he joked, “so if anything has happened to me in the meantime, I would encourage the police to take a hard look at Ari Emanuel.”
Kidding aside, Goodman and WGA East president Beau Willimon thanked the guilds’ members for their work and for their support during one of the most challenging years in the WGA’s history. “It’s been a rough year for all of us,” Goodman said, “and I’m glad that we can take this time, not only to celebrate the outstanding work of our members, but also to thank you for your solidarity and support that has led to a number of recent, notable successes.
“The completion of our agency campaign has made us true partners again with our agency representatives, and in our last MBA (Minimum Basic Agreement) negotiations, we achieved, among other things, portable paid parental leave that should become available in May — and is unlike any other union parental leave in the country.”
“There will always be more struggles,” he said, “whether it’s continuing to fight to improve streaming compensation, or protecting screenwriters from free work, or trying to get WGA coverage for our animation writers, or using our collective power to make substantive changes in the area of inclusion and equity. We’re incredibly proud to be part of a membership that is willing to fight and unite and sacrifice, when necessary, and continue to improve the value of what it is we do.”
Willimon spoke eloquently about the power of storytelling, and the “noble work” that writers do to help us through these difficult times. “One year ago, these awards were held in person,” he said. “Not long after, the entire world, including our industry, had to confront a global pandemic. We want to acknowledge the challenges many of you have faced over the past year, and the resilience you have shown. We thank the awards committees and staffs of both guilds for the extraordinary work they have done to organize this virtual ceremony under such difficult circumstances.
“These awards honor the work of writers. Every film and television show begins with a script, with people who shaped an idea into words and made something where there was nothing. At a time when the world is grappling with so much, storytelling is more important than ever. All of you do the noble work of continuing the human story; of holding up a mirror to society; of confronting pain and bringing joy; of staving off despair and inspiring hope with empathy, honesty and beauty.
“Thank you for the work you do, and thank you for doing it in solidarity with your fellow writers. Hopefully, next year we can do this in person.”