WGA West presidential candidate William Schmidt has offered to drop out of the race and support incumbent president David A. Goodman over Phyllis Nagy if the guild returns to the bargaining table and engages in “serious negotiations” with the Association of Talent Agents by Sept. 1. The offer was made over breakfast at the Nate ‘n Al deli in Beverly Hills last Thursday.
“Recently, David Goodman and I had breakfast, a meeting I initiated,” Schmidt wrote on his recently launched website. “I surprised him by offering to quit the race and endorse him if he returns to serious negotiations with the Big Four by September 1. He didn’t say no. He didn’t say yes.”
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Goodman, however, declined Schmidt’s offer. “I enjoyed my breakfast with William, but the election and the negotiations with the agencies are completely separate,” Goodman told Deadline. “It was inappropriate for William to offer a quid-pro-quo, as I would never make a decision regarding negotiations or any other Guild policy that involved helping my re-election. I also dispute his characterization that we haven’t been at the negotiation table; we have been in constant negotiations with the agencies. But we decided that after fifteen months of getting nowhere with the ATA, we needed to try to negotiate with the agencies individually, and that has led to several ATA members signing franchise agreements with us. It’s the few largest agencies that are refusing to negotiate with us right now. That’s their choice, not ours.”
Last week, two mid-sized agencies – Buchwald and Kaplan Stahler – broke ranks with the ATA and signed the guild’s modified Franchise Ageement.
“David did tell me at breakfast that they were negotiating, but I told him that negotiating with smaller agents about packaging who do no packaging is a waste,” Schmidt told Deadline. “The Big Four do almost all of the packaging.”
“I was told by a mutual friend to expect a warm, gregarious, funny guy and I wasn’t disappointed,” Schmidt wrote on his website. “We had a lot of laughs. Nothing better than writer war stories!”
Schmidt, who has refused to fire his agent despite the guild’s order that writers must do so if their agents refuse to sign its Code of Conduct, has maintained that the order violates the guild’s constitution. “While he seemed irritated at my going public with the unconstitutionality of the e-letter to agents, we only had one point of disagreement, the timing of negotiations with the Big Four,” he wrote. “I want them to begin immediately, he’s willing to wait awhile more.”
“After, when we walked to our cars, I thanked David for his hard work on our behalf. Having been on the Board of Directors, I know Guild service comes with long hours and no pay. People do it because it needs to be done, because they care about the Guild. I’m serious about my offer to David. The most important thing is to get back to the negotiating table.”
The guild’s standoff with the Association of Talent Agents is now in its 112th day. The two sides haven’t met face-to-face since June 7. Nagy is running for president on the Writers for Negotiation slate. Ballots in the guild’s election will be counted Sept. 16.