WGA West vice president candidate Craig Mazin has said that the guild needs a strategy shift and new leadership to resolve its ongoing feud with the talent agencies, but on his latest Scriptnotes podcast, he said there’s not much “daylight” between him and the guild’s current leadership on the issue.
“I wish I weren’t running for vice president, but I am,” said Mazin, the Emmy-nominated writer-creator of HBO’s Chernobyl. “So I guess the big deal is that I actually agree with everything the union is doing in terms of its fight with the agencies. I support that fight. I just don’t love the way they’re going about prosecuting the fight, and I want more of a voice to see if we can get it resolved quicker. That’s basically what I’m going after. But there’s less daylight between me and those folks than people might think.”
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Co-host John August, a member of the guild’s board and agency negotiating committee, noted that Kaplan Stahler last week became the first midsize lit agency to break ranks with the Association of Talent Agents and sign a deal with the guild and that three agents from the Abrams Artists Agency had left to form their own agency and promptly signed with the guild. The podcast aired today but was taped before the Buchwald agency broke ranks with the ATA and signed with the guild on Friday. (Listen to the podcast here.)
Speaking of smaller and midsize agencies signing up, Mazin said: “That’s where we’re seeing the changes, and that’s to be expected. Know that in terms of the Big 4 agencies, it’s increasingly unlikely that we’re going to see any sort of spontaneous change like that without a negotiated deal. And we also know that there are thousands of writers represented by those agencies that cannot be absorbed by the smaller ones. So this is nice to see; I encourage it, but it’s in no way indicative of a kind of permanent resolution.”
The WGA’s fight with the agencies is now in its 109th day – starting on April 13 when the guild ordered all of its members to fire their agents who refuse to sign its Code of Conduct, which has since been modified several times and is now called its Franchise Agreement. At last count, more than 7,000 writers had fired their agents, but the guild hasn’t updated that number in months. The Verve agency, which is not an ATA member, has also signed the guild’s deal. The only other ATA member to break ranks was the Pantheon agency, which signed back in March.
Mazin’s opposition slate includes presidential candidate Phyllis Nagy, secretary-treasurer candidate Nick Jones, Jr., and board candidates Marc Guggenheim, Nick Kazan, Ashley Miller, Courtney Kemp, Rasheed Newson, Ayelet Waldman, Sarah Treem and Jason Fuchs.
David A. Goodman, one of the leaders of the guild’s agency campaign, is seeking re-election as WGA West president. Dissident candidate William Schmidt is also running for president. Election ballots will be counted on September 16.