- For Members
- Create Web Account
- Declare/Pay Dues
- Your Residuals
- Update Your Contact Information
- WGAE Financial Statement
- Executive Director’s Report
- Your Career
- Plan Your Retirement
- Get Healthcare
- Guild Contracts
- Late Payment
- Get Involved
- WGAE Council FAQ
- Member Benefits
- Our Constitution
- WGA AMBA Information
- About the Guild
- News, Events & Awards
- Resource & Reference List for Writers
- Sexual Harassment Resource Guide
- Manhattan Neighborhood Network
- OnWriting ONLINE
- Agents & Agencies
- Digital Media Training Videos
- Educational Opportunities
- Industry Affiliations
- Services for Writers
- Job Postings
- Writing Tools
- Union Plus
- Find a Writer
- Script Registration
- Let’s Talk
Below are the candidate statements for the 2014 Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) council elections. Click the name of the candidate to go directly to their statement or scroll down to read them all.
In this election, there are 10 open Council seats (seven Freelance seats and three Staff seats).
The 16 candidates for the seven open Freelance seats are:
- Timothy Cooper
- Marin Gazzaniga
- Jo Miller
- Beau Willimon
- John Marshall
- John Auerbach
- Chris Kyle
- Richard Vetere
- Walter Bernstein
- Kyle Bradstreet
- George Strayton
- Oren Moverman
- Jenny Lumet
- Andrea Ciannavei
- Danielle Paige
- Terry George
The four candidates for the three open Staff seats are:
Please note: The order of listing candidates is determined by a drawing of candidates’ names by lot, conducted by two members with a WGAE staff member acting as witness.
WGAE members can vote in this Council election beginning Wednesday, August 27, through Thursday, September 18. The results will be announced on Friday, September 19. The term is for two years from 2014-2016. The WGAE does not endorse or recommend any candidates for Guild office.
Introduction If you haven’t seen me at one of the dozens or possibly thousands of Guild events I attend each year, let me introduce myself: For the past 10 years, I’ve been actively advocating for the WGAE—even though I only became a member five years ago.
Back in 2004, the Associate program allowed me to sample many of our union’s benefits before I was eligible to join. I was able to attend screenings and mixers, volunteer at the WGA Awards, play on our softball team, and strike alongside my fellow writers before I became a full-fledged member in 2009. With my experience vocally participating in and fighting for my union well before I was truly a part of it, I’m prepared and eager to champion our causes in a more official capacity.
Credits I’m a Brooklyn-based filmmaker, comedy writer, and screenwriting teacher. My web series, Concierge: The Series, was nominated for the first-ever WGA Award for new media in 2011. I was among the first dozen people to be accepted into the Guild for digital content, and I was one of the founding members of our groundbreaking Digital Caucus.
My first feature-writing credit, Away From Here, was released last year. It was written before I was an official Guild member, although I wish I’d understood the WGAE’s ability to organize low-budget projects even then. I’ve written and directed various digital pilots, including one that was a nationwide top-five finalist at the New York Television Festival. Plus, I’ve written and consulted on many commercials and industrials, including five 2014 Super Bowl spots for YouTube (the corporation).
Guild Activities ● Wrote jokes for the 2014 WGA Awards ● Mentored underrepresented student writers through the Writers Guild Foundation ● Taught classes about digital media writing and shooting at the WGAE offices ● Represented the WGAE by speaking at the Women in Film & Television International Summit in D.C. ● Managed the almost-award-winning WGAE softball team for the past five years ● Brought in dozens of new writers to the Digital Caucus, now making waves in new and old media
Goals My primary goal is to continue finding us new monetization strategies in digital arenas. As a screenwriter who also makes commercials, edits books and magazines, teaches classes, and more to pay the bills, I understand the necessity of creating jobs that benefit our entire membership—not just those who are currently staffed. That’s why I want to focus on unifying the increasingly diffuse content landscape (digital, nonfiction, animation, news, video games, commercials) under our universal banner.
Other projects I plan to see through: ● Increase programs to mentor and organize far more minority, female, disabled, and veteran members than we currently have—via outreach, educational events, and partner schools and nonprofits ● Strengthen our standing among fledgling writers via programs akin to the old Associate membership ● Forge productive bonds between us and related unions, including the DGA and the PGA ● Facilitate rewarding connections with writing-centric tech corporations like Yahoo! and YouTube
Finally The WGA has been a tremendous force in my life. Now I want to expand my role in helping us grow in influence, respect, and power—particularly by capitalizing on the vast promise of quality digital-specific content. If elected, I would not start but passionately continue my advocacy, for both my fellow writers and the future members of our union. I would be honored to serve you and our entire membership.
In early 2013 I got my WGAE card and I was thrilled. I’d made my living writing for 20 years, but getting that card in the mail made me feel like a professional writer in a way that two decades of typing “Writer” on my Schedule C’s never had. Now I had basic minimums, mandatory writing credits, pension and health payments that I didn’t have to negotiate.
I joined the Guild as a staff writer for “One Life to Live” under the new media deal the WGA struck with Prospect Park Networks. After 3 months I was promoted to co-head writer. Before that, I wrote and produced content for HBO digital, including the first interactive features on HBO GO for True Blood and Boardwalk Empire, and “Inside the Episode” features for Bored to Death, Veep, Hung among others. After being a finalist in a Redbull/IFC contest, I co-created a web series “Like So Many Things….” and licensed it to IFC. I adapted, produced and acted in the film version of my play So Close and secured a digital distribution deal for the film with Cinetic. I’ve written for the children’s animated show Arthur. I’ve also written and edited everything from an anthology about breasts to questions for the board game Cranium. But here’s what I think I can bring to the WGAE Council: a deep understanding of the needs of both writers and producers working in the evolving new media world.
It’s great to be a union member and feel like I can take my career to a new level. But here’s what scares me: In my print career, I’ve seen fees for writing plummet ever since a magazine could add “.com” to it’s title. My first job was at Vogue, where writers were paid $1-$2 a word. That fee hasn’t increased in 20 years; today fees for online magazines are more like $200 for a 1000+ word articles – (but think of the “exposure!”)
While the Guild has made headway with new media deals, there is a lot to be done to prevent this same erosion of fees for writers of shows that are distributed online. Trust me, you work just as hard writing a half hour soap for Hulu as you do for a network – maybe even harder because the staff is smaller. And yet currently you’ll make a fraction of the fee because digital content hasn’t been “monetized” yet.
I get it; I know about trying to make things on a limited budget. But the devaluing of writers in new media can’t continue. Negotiating reasonable digital and streaming deals is crucial for all artists, writers in particular, who want to make a living wage. As a member of SAG and the Dramatist’s and Author’s Guild, I’ve benefited from the power of group negotiation and support over the years. I believe I have a unique set of insights having produced and written for small and large companies in the digital realm. I’d welcome the chance to put my experience to work for future WGAE contract negotiations and strategizing.
When I found myself nominated for the WGAE Council, I consulted my Daily Show colleagues Elliott Kalan (former Freelance member) and Zhubin Parang (current member) to ask, “Can one person really make a difference by serving on the Council?” The answer was yes — both of them had managed to secure meaningful improvements in the way our healthcare coverage works — so I decided to run.
Having joined the Guild a year after the strike, I’m acutely aware that the benefits I enjoy were secured by the toil and sacrifice of others, and I’d like to give back something other than a big dues check every quarter and a bunch of lobbying phone calls to our state assembly.
My appreciation for the Guild deepened a few years ago when I sat in on some negotiation sessions. That’s when I truly understood what Lowell Peterson and his colleagues do for us on a daily basis: they deal with bastards. Politely but with strength and determination, they face down some of the most towering specimens of bastardy the industry can throw at us. People who want to claw back benefits writers already enjoy and prevent us from sharing in the vast profits we help generate. People who want to keep their writers from organizing at all costs. $400/hour attorneys who look writers in the eye and tell us we’re too well compensated.
Without the Guild we’d be at the mercy of those who place a low value on our work, which is why I support WGAE’s continuing efforts to organize writers who are still unrepresented. I also want to make sure we prevent writers from being exploited and under-compensated as more and more content moves to digital distribution platforms. If we don’t get ahead of the studios and networks and insist on an equitable piece of the digital pie, we will regret it for years to come. As someone with an IT background who replaced her TV set with a laptop years ago, I would work to keep the Guild’s focus on emerging distribution platforms and what they mean for writers.
WGAE does an admirable job on the organizing and negotiating fronts, but it is also a professional organization with a mission to provide career support to its diverse body of members. Here I think we have lagged somewhat behind our larger cousin on the West Coast. Through the Writers Guild Foundation*, WGAW members enjoy access to an impressive array of career-development resources, including the Writers Guild Foundation Shavelson-Webb Library:
“Founded in 1984, the library is now home to over 22,000 items consisting of produced film, television, and radio scripts – many of which have received major writing awards – books, periodicals, DVDs, videos, a digital script-reading facility, and other materials on the history, biography, art, craft, and business of writing for entertainment media.”
I’d like to explore the possibility of creating a script library here for the use of WGAE members. The high cost of Manhattan floorspace might once have been a barrier, but documents are easily digitized now. A small seating area and a few tablet computers could put a large script collection at members’ fingertips.
That’s just one idea (from a former academic who loves libraries). But it’s really your ideas I want to hear, whether you joined WGAE forty years ago or last week. As a Council member I would always be available to listen to your concerns and thoughts on how the Guild could serve you better.
Thank you for your consideration.
Jo Miller Staff Writer The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
— * WGAE also has a foundation, but ours is primarily concerned with school outreach and mentoring programs to cultivate the next generation of writers, not resources to support current writers.
Brevity is the soul of something – hopefully this letter.
I’m honored to have been nominated to run for the WGAE Council, and I’d be even more honored to serve. So I’m asking for your vote.
Many of my peers have been in the Guild far longer than me, and have much more experience confronting Guild issues like healthcare, contract-rights, membership services and negotiations with studios, networks and producers.
I offer one chief asset – my front-row seat to the changing landscape of content distribution, specifically my experience working with Netflix.
My contract for House of Cards helped establish a precedent for writers being compensated fairly according to Guild minimums in a distribution arena that otherwise could have remained murky.
With House of Cards we’ve experimented with release models; challenged the conventional differentiations between film, TV and the internet; contributed to the ongoing trend toward liberating audiences from appointment viewing; and helped usher in an era of TV that isn’t limited to the cable spectrum.
While this landscape evolves, it’s important for the Guild to evolve with it. I hope that I would provide some insight with respect to that evolution. And prove to be a quick learner on all the other important issues the Guild continually faces.
Not sure how I fared on the brevity part – but we all have our flaws – and overwriting is one of mine.
Thank you for time and consideration. Good luck to everyone who is running for Council. I’m proud to share your company, and to be a member of the WGAE.
Frequently Asked Questions About John Marshall
Do I know John Marshall?
I don’t know. Do you?
I asked you first.
Yes, you did. You know John Marshall from his work on the WGA Awards. He has written for many and was the executive producer in 2012 and this year. Among his accomplishments were helping to craft Jimmy Fallon and Rachel Dratch’s acclaimed Jim Morrison/cello opening and overseeing Colin Quinn’s Wolf of Wall Street-themed monologue, in which he championed the stellar virtues of Guild writers.
Who has endorsed John?
John is endorsed by Jeremy Pikser, who says, “John Marshall was an invaluable, hard working, and highly productive member of the 2011-12 council. I hope to work with him again on the next.”
John is also endorsed by the following Guild members:
Bonnie Datt Gina Gionfriddo Ted Schreiber Courtney Simon
Do I know John Marshall from anywhere else?
Do you have any other questions? Or is it just the one?
Just answer it.
If you’ve watched The Chris Rock Show, Politically Incorrect, Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, The Electric Company, Say Anything with Joy Behar and many other shows, you’ve laughed at John’s jokes, sketches, cartoons and various other forms of writing. (An excerpt from one of John’s screenplays was performed at a Guild screenplay reading). If you were to binge watch everything John has been involved in, it would take longer than Breaking Bad and Orange Is the New Black combined.
So John served on the Council for a year before?
Yes. One of the high points for him was going to Albany with other Guild members to meet with legislators. John is extremely committed to getting the fairest possible deals for writers. He brings a single-mindedness as well as a sense of humor to the table.
So John has brought a comedy writer’s perspective to his work on the Awards and on the Council?
Yes. A comedy writer must have a strong point of view, and so must an active Guild member. At the Awards, John’s mission was not just to honor the winners, but to celebrate the whole Guild. On the Council his goal was to make sure writers got the very best that they deserved. He has never been self-deprecating when it comes to writers. He thinks writers are at the very top.
Can John speak for himself?
Who do you think has been writing these questions and answers?
Do you have any final thoughts? I mean, do I have final thoughts?
You know as well as I do that John’s thoughts are never final…
John pledges to work tirelessly, as he has on the Awards committee and the Council before, particularly regarding the various new forms of media that are springing up every day. The world that writers operate in is literally being updated every five minutes – John wants to make sure we seize all the advantages that are due us.
Do you have one more final thought?
You know me too well. John urges his fellow Guild members to remind everyone to vote, and to make sure that you don’t miss the greatest Writers Guild Awards ever, at the Edison Ballroom, February 15, 2015.
Is that it?
Yeah, I think that covers it.
You want to get something to eat?
OK. You feel like a pizza?
We got pizza last time. I was thinking a diner.
Great! I’m in the mood for a tuna club.
I have served on the Council since 2006 and represented the WGAE through three MBA negotiations (2001, 2004, 2007-08). I am proud to be endorsed by the following writers, all of whom I have worked alongside to further the cause of WGAE members:
Henry Bean – Adam Brooks – Tom Fontana – Terry George – Gina Gionfriddo – James Schamus – Stephen Schiff
Just in the last two years of my time on the Council, the Writers’ Guild of America, East has been incredibly productive –
The Guild has grown into an increasingly user friendly site, both in person and online. Social and professional development events at WGAE offices and theatrical screenings fill its calendar. Its website offers a wealth of industry knowledge and access to Guild topics.
The union has made impressive strides in organizing non-fiction TV “sweatshops” and fought for legislation to bring diversity to television’s writing rooms.
This spring, the WGAE Council initiated its Diversity Committee to address the absence of minority writers in the entertainment industry.
In addition to all this, the Guild has negotiated minimum basic agreements for staff news writers, freelance film and TV writers and public television writers while maintaining a healthy bottom line through increased revenues and reduced operating expenses under its Executive Director, Lowell Petersen.
And yet –
I believe there are current industry challenges and shifting economic trends that the WGAE must tackle in an innovative and more effective manner.
Practically every MBA negotiation cycle begins with early talks months before our contract’s end date. Our negotiating partners, the studios and networks, typically greet our willingness to bargain early with rollbacks. The companies’ threat is that the writers will get an even worse offer closer to the contract deadline. In this scenario, the deadline – usually a source of labor’s bargaining leverage – is purportedly our enemy. Not only does that sound illogical but the results – the rollbacks always disappear before the contract’s end date – repeatedly prove so.
If you have ever attended a WGAE MBA negotiations informational meeting, you may remember being told that companies bargain as a single entity, the AMPTP, while the entertainment unions each bargain separately. At every meeting a member new to the process will ask the obvious question: why doesn’t the WGAE/WGAW negotiate jointly with the Screen Actors Guild and the Directors Guild? Because that’s the way it’s always been is basically the answer. While the respective Executive Directors from the unions seem to communicate, there is rarely if ever any member to member meetings despite the overlap in membership between the guilds and especially between the WGAE/WGAW and the DGA.
On top of that, members are told that the DGA, which has struck only once in its history for about three hours, “sets the pattern,” i.e., we have to take whatever the DGA, the least assertive union, does. Why? Because…
Shouldn’t the Writers’ Guilds use the next two years at least investigating alternative strategies before the next negotiations?
Media Mergers & The Assault on Net Neutrality
Every time there is a planned media merger that lessens competition for writers’ services or a change in industry and technological regulations that would adversely affect freelance members’ livelihoods, WGAE staffers and Council leaders dutifully speak before elected representatives and government panels and write opinion pieces as they should, denouncing these moves as bad for the content creators and bad for the consumers. Congressmen and federal appointees listen respectfully, happy to be seen as open to all views, and then allow a cable carrier like Comcast to swallow whole Universal/NBC, thereby guaranteeing vertical integration. Comcast and AT&T are among this country’s biggest political contributors so is it any wonder that they always seem to get their way. Now comes Comcast’s planned merger with Time Warner Cable that would give the newly combined company 40% of this country’s broadband access and AT&T’s proposed merger with DirecTV with the stated intent of lowering production costs of its content. Do our hopes for stopping these moves begin and end with speeches on C-Span and Huffington Post op-ed’s? Is a different approach out there that may have more bite such as aligning with corporate behemoth online content providers, e.g., Google? I don’t know but other options have not been discussed within the Council. Meanwhile, media power consolidates into ever fewer hands.
The end of net neutrality which would be facilitated by the FCC’s approval of paid-prioritization access for providers such as Netflix would mean, as the WGAE has pointed out in its public pronouncements, that deep pocketed companies would have better access to, say, Comcast’s subscribers than those competitors who can’t pay for the faster speed. The Guild objection goes on record, trade journals take note and a tree falls in the forest that few ever hear.
On the other hand, HBO’s John Oliver produced a 16 minute rant on his Last Week Tonight on the threat of the FCC snuffing out net neutrality which led to riled up viewers shutting down the FCC’s website. The clip went viral and, for at least a few days, many were talking about the issue. Are there other out-of-the-box, asymmetrical approaches to be applied given that we are a creative union going up against industry Goliaths who usually get what they want? I believe there are and that the Council should at least investigate any options.
The conventional wisdom is that all those free screenplay rewrites, sweepstakes pitching for open assignments with requested changes, expected leave behinds for pitches and spec’ing for producers took hold as script development funding dried up to a trickle in the wake of the 2008 crash and in the subsequent studio retrenchment into fewer tent pole releases. However, this is not entirely true.
The WGAE/WGAW filed an arbitration against the studios and their producers over some of these same practices in 1999. That’s right, 15 years ago. Before the billions in home video dollars had peaked and while the market for writers was full of major and mini-major buyers. The arbitrator ruled that studios had the right to ask for free work and that writers had the right to refuse to do it.
The studios had decided they should get the writers’ work for less and the writers apparently agreed. A continuum had been established.
A recent survey of WGAE/WGAW screenwriters revealed that the practice of free work is fairly prevalent. Despite being writers-for-hire with contracts that spell out exactly what they get paid for and despite the Guild’s Minimum Basic Agreement that details payments for additional writing steps, e.g., revision and polish, writers feel compelled to do free work at the request of their employers.
Those who refuse dread they will won’t work again. Those who agree feel trapped on a hamster wheel of endless rewrites.
There are no silver bullets to solve this problem. The idea of shaming the studios with “report cards” based on Guild surveys showing who were the worst offenders in terms of free work has been floated. More likely, a report card grading a studio’s ability to wheedle a lot of free work out of writers would be a badge of honor for its business affairs department. If the report card tactic sounds familiar that’s because the same report card idea was applied back in 2001 to “creative rights” issues, e.g., invitation to the film’s premiere, a home video copy of the finished film, etc. This ineffectual approach made little impact and died a quick and quiet death.
Only by engaging our members in a wide internal organizing effort can the WGAE hope to convince them that free writing is rarely in the screenwriter’s best interest. The Guild would also have to show what steps it would take to protect those writers who say “no” to free work.
I believe the Council is capable of better initiatives than simply taking surveys then punting the issue down the road. Recommending writers to migrate from features to television and subscription digital on demand is practical advice as one job market shrinks and the others grow but what happens when the free work ethos follows them?
**** Writing for such studios as Columbia, Warners, and TriStar and for the movie divisions of the cable networks, HBO and Showtime, among others, I have come to understand the needs of the working writer. One of my prouder Council achievements is my involvement with the establishment of the Guild’s Writing Room which offers a comfortable Wi-Fi writing space, all the coffee you can drink and a place for writer camaraderie.
In addition to serving on the Diversity Committee, I am a trustee on the Writers’ Guild – Industry Health Fund and the Producers’ – Writers Guild of America Pension Plan and a past recipient of the Richard B. Jablow Award for devoted Service to the Guild.
According to a recent WGAw report, total screenwriter earnings are down 25% since 2009 and the number of writers working in film has declined 14%. (These figures only include WGAw members, but I’m guessing the statistics for our members are similarly grim.) Meanwhile, we face frozen or declining quotes, one-step deals, pressure for free rewrites, and studios that ask us to pitch fully worked-out story treatments just to get a shot at one of the handful of jobs available. I’ve been working as a screenwriter almost 20 years and the current situation is the most discouraging I’ve ever seen. Is it just a down cycle in the movie business that will eventually turn around—or is this, God forbid, the new normal?
I’m running for Council this year because I think we as a Guild have to be active and creative in addressing this changing landscape. As the studios cut back their development slates and independent companies step in to offer us cut-rate deals, is there an opportunity to negotiate more meaningful participation in the backend to replace what we lose upfront? Are there collective actions we can take to improve the pitching process? Is there a better way to enforce the rules against free rewrites? What else can we do to protect writers working on low budget films? And what can we do to shape the new platforms that may provide greater opportunities for us in the future?
I joined the Guild in 1995 and have served on the picket lines during the strike, as a credit arbitrator and, most significantly, as a volunteer mentor for the Writers Guild Initiative (the charitable foundation of the WGAE). Over the past six years I have worked with dozens of other member writers as part of the WGI’s Veterans Writing Project, mentoring Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who want to write about their experiences in the war. Under the leadership of Tom Fontana and Michael Weller, the Veterans Writing Program has expanded enormously from our humble beginnings in 2008, and has now helped hundreds of veterans tell their stories. The work I’ve done with fellow writers on the VWP inspired me to join the board of the WGI in 2012 and, this year, to run for Council. If elected, I will bring the same sense of commitment and collaboration to representing the membership.
Endorsed by Chris Albers, Henry Bean, Craig Carlisle, Richard Dresser, Tom Fontana, Gina Gionfriddo, Elliott Kalan, Susan Kim, Willie Reale, Susanna Styron, Michael Weller and Andy Yerkes.
WGA Credits: Serena (premieres this fall), Alexander, K-19: The Widowmaker, The Weight of Water, Homicide: Life on the Streets. As a playwright: The Monogamist and Plunge (premiered at Playwrights Horizons), The Safety Net (Broken Watch Theatre), Boca (Charlotte Rep). Guggenheim Fellow in Drama.
P.S. If you’re interested in learning more about the Veterans Writing Program or the other programs sponsored by the WGI, please visit www.wgaefoundation.org
In 2010 I was made a Lifetime and Current Member of the WGA East and then in 2012 I was elected to the Council. In the last two years I volunteered for every committee where I thought I could not only contribute to but also learn from.
I saw first-hand how the WGA East pursues its mission which is to ensure protection for its present, new and future members. Most of the challenges ahead are due to the vast changes in technology and also from those producing entities that create shows that take advantage of writers by not recognizing their value.
With the massive changes created by the internet and digital technology challenge us not only to pursue fair remunerations and residuals for members but also to continue to stay alert and pursue fair remunerations and residuals in the future. The more change there is the more we need to be watchful in the task of protecting writers. New media is already offering some major optimism for sure and now it’s our job to keep that positivity steady.
Important: pay raises, minimums, pension and health, control over what we write and the food served at council meetings.
Not important: squabbling with the West, looking for respect from the companies and the food served at council meetings.
As in the past, I will try to distinguish among these and act accordingly.
Endorsed by: Tom Fontana, Gina Gionfriddo, Chris Albers, Anya Epstein, Warren Leight, Bradford Winters, Julie Martin, Thomas Kelly, Michael Weller, Kate Erickson, James Yoshimura, Brant Englestein, Jorge Zamacona
I am proud to have been nominated for the Writers Guild of America, East Council, offering me the opportunity to work alongside esteemed colleagues who’ve served tirelessly and remain staunch advocates for our union.
As a television writer, I see our ever-expanding industry readying itself to take on new formats, new platforms, new forms of funding — and the challenges that will accompany such forthcoming changes. Having been employed in various venues of TV over the past six years — including network, basic cable, pay cable, international co-production and Canadian co-production — I’m confident that I’ll be able to advise on the issues we’re to face as we, the WGAE, reassess and strategize what our goals must be.
This past year, 24 drama pilots and 5 comedy pilots were shot in New York. This was excellent news for our production crews, whom we fully support. But now that the networks have picked up their pilots to series, the majority of those series’ writers’ rooms have retreated to Los Angeles. I was, once again, reminded of a battle the Guild has been long fighting — one in which my participation began several years ago. In May of 2012, I was invited by WGAE staff to visit Albany and speak with New York State Senators and Assembly Members about the TV and film production tax incentive, which covered almost all aspects of producing a television series… except writing. Unfortunately, that is still the case.
Currently, at $420 million per year, New York State’s tax incentive for TV and film production is one of the highest in the nation. The WGAE has, since 2009, been lobbying Albany to apportion $3.5 million of that amount to be used as credits for productions to hire women and minorities.
While the Guild has gained much ground, the legislation — bills A7373A and S5370A — has yet to make it to the floor for a vote. Meanwhile, Louisiana and Georgia already implemented such tax incentives for writers in their budgets, and they have proven to be successful in creating jobs for WGAE members.
If elected, my primary focus will be to increase our Guild lobbying efforts to pass the legislation we have brought to the State’s door to credit a television production for the aforementioned diversified writers. I believe it necessary that our entire WGAE membership be aware of and active in the passage of these legislations. It’s time to collectively increase our Guild’s endeavors in Albany and ensure that, through bills A7373A and S5370A, WGAE writers become part of the New York State TV and film production tax incentive.
I appreciate you taking the time to read my candidate statement, and I hope to receive your vote.
Credits: COPPER (BBC America), BORGIA: Faith and Fear (Netflix), THE PHILANTHROPIST (NBC), development with HBO Miniseries and FX Productions.
Guild Activities: Writers Guild of America, East member since 2009. NY BookPals SAG/WGAE PencilPals program. Writers Guild Initiative Actors & Writers Book Club. Proponent for New York State writers’ room tax incentives.
I became a Guild member in 1999. Since then I’ve seen the industry change drastically, especially over the past two years with the proliferation of alternate distribution platforms like Netflix, Amazon, and Xbox.
Over the past fifteen years, I’ve written for television, film, and transmedia and been involved in WGA East and West activities, including participation in the successful credit revision committee and picketing every day of the strike. I’m passionate about the Guild and its work, and I especially value my fellow members.
My chief concern revolves around emerging distribution platforms. When I started, the term “transmedia” didn’t exist; now it’s the new normal. If history is any guide, the studios will try to take advantage of new distribution platforms to weaken our power as a union and, ultimately, decrease our wages. Although we’ve accomplished a great deal recently, given the rapid changes in technology, we have a lot of work to do to ensure we retain our fair share of payment for our work.
If elected, I will do everything I can to increase public awareness of writers as the true creators in the industry (no one else can work until we first invent characters and a story — and that includes reality television). This takes away nothing from the work of our collaborators (directors, actors, and producers), but we need the general audience to crave to see the next Marc Norman, Aaron Sorkin, or Michael Arndt film. The fact that Netflix lists only a film’s director and actors tells you all you need to know about the public perception of writers. The point is, with greater audience awareness comes greater power in our negotiations with producers.
I appreciate your taking the time to read my candidate statement and hope you will consider voting for me. Thank you.
If elected, I will try to use the least amount of words to do the most good on behalf of the membership.
I’m very proud to say that during my first term on the Council I lobbied in Albany for women and minorities in the Guild to be covered under the New York State Tax Credit, and I was instrumental in introducing the WGAE’s first ever Diversity Committee.
I serve as Co-Chair of that Committee.
If reelected, I will continue to implement Diversity initiatives within the Council and the WGAE.
Thank you Jenny Lumet
I have three main beefs with our industry as I see it:
- A shameless unwillingness to put people of color and women in writers’ rooms with equal measure, I find it creatively limiting and ethically reprehensible;
- Net-neutrality. By controlling all the content and limiting who gets to see what based on prices paid for internet speed, corporations are limiting future opportunities for writers and consumers. The political implications of this kind of sliding scale censorship are outrageous as well; and lastly
- The fearmongering that goes on between producers, agents and writers that allows producers to ask writers to perform duties outside of their contracts, or bring in written material to pitch meetings. They do it essentially with impunity. There is not a single suit who will do a stitch of work for free in this life and yet writers feel obligated to do so out of fear of being blacklisted and in effect cut the power of the union off at the knees.
Professionally, I’ve been working in theater for 15 years and in TV for 4. In 2011, I traveled on behalf of Marsha Norman to Thailand, India, South Africa, Kenya, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Egypt, Haiti and Ecuador to conduct interviews and research on human trafficking, sex slavery, gender violence and socio-political and economic issues that impact women and their families. I’ve written over 6 plays, most notably, Pretty Chin Up which received a development production at LAByrinth Theater Company (Artistic Directors: Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Ortiz) at The Public Theater. I made my beginning in TV in 2010 on Tom Fontana’s Borgia for three seasons and season 2 of Copper on BBC America. Now I’m a staff writer on NBC Universal’s forthcoming Odyssey helmed by Peter Foster, Adam Armus and Kay Foster. I completed undergraduate studies at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts’ Dramatic Writing Program and went on to Juilliard’s Lila Acheson Playwriting Fellowship 2008-2010.
In addition to writing for theater and TV, I have also worked for the Writers Guild Initiative as a project coordinator for the Helen Deutsch Writing Workshops: free writing workshops for wounded warriors returning from service in Iraq and Afghanistan (as well as their family caregivers) in Ohio, Texas, New York, Los Angeles, and the American Military Hospital in Landstuhl, Germany. I’ve also spent the last 3 years heavily involved in social and political activism: I am a co-founder of InterOccupy, Occupy Sandy, and the Million Hoodies for Trayvon Martin movement. I also work for The Yes Men as a content writer and am a coop member of Glocal, a tech and organizing cooperative that seeks to bridge the gap between online to on-the-street activism for groups who work to affect social, political and economic change.
I’m honored and grateful for the opportunity to run for a seat on WGAE’S council. Writing and activism have been the two major forces at work in my life for a number of years, and I view this as a chance to meld both. Writers are a community I care very deeply about and I hope I get the chance to serve you.
I began my career writing scripts for CBS’ Guiding Light. In the wake of the changes in Daytime, I was fortunate enough to land a scripted pilot deal at MTV. This year my first YA novel Dorothy Must Die was published by HarperCollins and became a NYT Times bestseller that is in development with the CW.
Being part of the Guild has been a source of tremendous pride and support for me. My work in Daytime allowed me to become a vested member. Having Guild minimums and health insurance in my first writing job made me appreciate how important the Guild’s influence is in securing our rights as writers.
I have served on the Awards and Activities committees and actively participated in workshops and panels. I would like to serve as a member of council, to make sure writers in the future continue to have the protection that I have had.
I am honored to be endorsed by Bonnie Datt, Gina Gionfriddo, Susan Kim, Penelope Koechl, Melissa Salmons and Courtney Simon
I have served on the WGAE council for the last four years and previously on the national negotiating committee during the 2007-8 strike. This year I served on the national negotiating committee during the recent contract negotiation. I’ve been a WGAE member for twenty years and the need for a strong union to protect the interests of working writers seems more necessary than ever. Television production is booming, profits are way up and the Guild has managed to negotiate a fair contract and re-affirm that this union is an important and powerful force in the industry. The Guild, particularly the staff in the East, has managed to mobilize and unionize writers in the reality television field in the face of union busting tactics by employers. We are making slow steady progress while other unions across the country are in retreat. I think that’s a remarkable achievement and I’d like to continue to work on the council to consolidate these gains.
I earn most of my living from Feature writing and here I believe we are in trouble. Job opportunities have shrunk and our need to work in an increasingly competitive environment has been exploited by studios and producers. Our work conditions have deteriorated drastically. Writers are pitted against each other in pitch sessions. Requests for free rewrites are the norm. Basic contractual obligations are ignored by the employers. There are no easy answers to any of these problems, but I’d like your vote so that I might join with our council members East and West and try to hold the line and get back to a decent and equitable work environment for all our members.
Terry George, a Guild member since 1993, has written or co-written several feature films, including, In the Name of The Father, The Boxer, Hart’s War, Hotel Rwanda and Reservation Road. His television credits include The District, and Outlaw.
I’ve been a member of the Guild for about 30 years.
When I was a writer/producer at Thirteen/WNET, about 50 of us decided that we were fed up with seasonal workloads that saw us putting in more than 80 hours a week without any additional pay. Some of us thought that maybe our working situation could be improved. Most of all, we had enough of managers who subscribed to the tube-of-toothpaste school of management, people who boasted to our faces that they knew “how to get work out of you.” We were tired of being worked hard, but treated dismissively.
So we did what fed-up employees have been doing for decades… we told our story to the folks at the WGAE, and as new members of the union, we used the support of our brothers and sisters to hammer out a contract. The result: clarification of job descriptions, equal pay for equal work categories, meal allowances, vacation protections, overtime… in short, we won a voice at work, and we used it. The decision to unionize enriched us financially, spiritually and professionally. And it gave us a taste for making things happen.
It’s been my good luck to expand what I learned from organizing and negotiating for my shop by working on the Guild’s committees and on the Council. Now, after some time off, I’d like to put my experience to work again.
The Guild faces interesting challenges. Technological changes that continue to transform journalism and entertainment. Media consolidation that makes our employers more powerful and more influential. Political currents that are unfriendly to unions.
I remain interested in these challenges and eager to find new approaches to further the interests of the Guild and creative workers.
I offer to you my extensive experience as a writer and as a union activist. I hope you’ll let me once again use my energies to advance the goals of the WGAE and bring a little more balance to working world.
Cath Twohill has served as a shop steward, Council member, and member of several Guild committees. In 2008, she was awarded the Richard B. Jablow Award for Distinguished Service to the Guild.
I spent so much time on WGA picket lines during the 2007-2008 strike, I had to undergo physical therapy for my back. (Those signs can be pretty heavy, especially if you’re energetically pumping them into the air).
Why do I mention this? Because I regularly picketed even though I was NOT covered by the MBA. I’d finish a newsroom shift, then head to the strike line.
I did this because I believed in union solidarity. I still do which is why I’m running again for Council.
I want what we all want: More money, enhanced job security and — no less important – greater respect.
My credits: ** Writer/Producer at CBS News ** 7 term WGAE Secretary/Treasurer ** Recipient of 2007 Richard B. Jablow Award for Devoted Service to the Guild ** Member of Finance, Awards, Real Estate and 6 WGA-CBS News Negotiating Committees ** Winner of WGA, RTNDA and Peabody Awards ** Graduate of Cornell University’s Union Leadership Institute
Kathy McGee seeks your support for WGA East Council.
Since joining the Writers Guild of America, East in 1997 I have witnessed the lightning-quick evolution of the news and entertainment industry. As a writer for WCBS-TV, I understand the challenges of working with fewer employees. We sometimes struggle to grasp new technology, but all things are possible. Change can be exciting when we embrace it. We should not just be fearful. For the past nine years I have worked to help WGA members at WCBS-TV understand our contract. It’s been a team effort. WGA members have worked together, supported one another, and learned new skills with little training. We have succeeded every time.
I have worked on two contract negotiating committees. I’d like to see the WGA continue to grow stronger as a community of colleagues, sharing information and knowledge.
Having a strong membership is not just a numbers game. It’s also about making sure we are all positioned to take advantage of opportunities. I will continue to pursue training that helps members improve their skills. That is my desire whether I’m elected to council or not.
Listening is key, and we must do more to reach out and empower members so we’re ready for the future.
We are creative, dedicated and hard-working. We are the driving force behind the award-winning broadcasts companies often celebrate.
Thank you for your consideration.
Kathy McGee Strong. Support. Success!
I’m proud to represent the many news writers who work diligently every day to provide information to the masses. With ever changing technology in an ever changing industry, I’m able to provide a perspective to the Writers Guild on the challenges we face. At a time when companies seek out inexpensive methods for news gathering and producing, it is important to remember the people who generate it. News writers are often behind the scenes working tirelessly to provide their best product every day. I try to do my best to assure that we receive the acknowledgement we deserve.