As talks are about to resume Monday on the final elements that many hope will lead to a new deal for the Writers Guild Of America, we wanted to lend some perspective and give voice to the TV and feature writers whose fortunes will be tied directly to the deal their union makes. This is the fourth in a quick succession of five questions we asked a panel of 10 writers. Here are their responses, and hopefully other writers will be moved to comment about the issues that worry them most as their work is monetized in this fast-changing digital age.
WRITER #1: Honestly, I wouldn’t vote for Patric Verrone as the President of the Tupperware Club of Paramus, New Jersey. I also find it hilarious that he used the entire (supposedly confidential) WGA mailing list to seek contributions from writers he was largely responsible for harming. Why does he get to use the WGA mailing list for his political campaign? He should be investigated for that. I felt then and I feel now that Verrone was totally out for himself. I supported the WGA and the strike but I never supported Verrone. I think Billy Ray — the guy in there negotiating now — is a smart man who cares for writers. He’s also a damn good writer.
WRITER #2: The strike was “lost” before we hit the picket lines. Verrone and [Executive Director David] Young seem to have wanted the strike whether or not it was winnable or smart, to ﬂex guild muscles, and to establish a sense of leadership that, in the end, revealed itself to be divorced from the daily realities of our industry. Meanwhile, the studios, wanting to cut overhead, saw the strike as a way to accelerate the ways the business was already contracting. For them the strike couldn’t come fast enough. No working writer I know thought the strike was any kind of success. We limped to its conclusion, beaten, humiliated and humbled, a lot poorer. Verrone, who pulled salary while we went eight months or more without income, was only too happy to wave the banner while leading us into machine gun ﬁre. In the end, Verrone seemed about Verrone. Can’t see a circumstance in which I’d support his candidacy for state senate.
WRITER #3: I think Patric put in a good effort to try to get something from the strike and had some smaller victories. But as I said in Question 3, he was hamstrung by the fact that the high-end writers didn’t want to strike. Also I think Patric was very ambitious to try to unionize feature animation. But when the AAA-list screenwriters say “sure we’ll strike” and immediately book millions in high-end feature animation jobs, that goal proves impossible. Sure it’s mildly disingenuous for him to make the claim that he won the strike, but in the world of politics, I believe that statement is probably more honest than what his opponents will claim. I’d consider voting for him, however I haven’t seen what the rest of his platform is besides labor. (more…)