I am the loyal opposition.
It’s a shame I have to even say it, but there are those in my union who think dissent with leadership is tantamount to betrayal and disloyalty. Of course, it’s not.
As the loyal opposition, I have a responsibility to be true to both my oppositional nature and the loyalty I have to my union. Usually, Patric Verrone and the majority leadership provide plenty of fodder for my oppositional nature. Today, they’ve given my loyal side a real boost.
And, well, fair’s fair. If I’m loudly critical when I think they’ve screwed up, I should be just as loud when I think they’ve done a great job.
All of you who are WGAw or WGAE members have received the 2009 proposed constitutional amendments, which center around the creation of uniform voting standards for East and West members. I’m going to talk about the way it used to work, then I’m going to talk about what the proposed changes mean and why I think they are fantastic.
The Way Things Were
The WGAw and WGAE are two separate unions with separate constitutions, separate governance and separate elections, but we have agreed to affiliate in one critical way. We negotiate jointly with the AMPTP. This is not a matter of choice. Each union has an article of affiliation in their respective constitutions that mandates how this must be so. Because we bargain together, there are certain matters than must be put to a joint vote of the combined membership of the two unions.
Those matters include MBA ratification votes, strike votes, votes to change the credits manual and votes to amend the affiliation agreements themselves.
And that makes sense.
Here’s what doesn’t.
Until this proposal came along, the qualifications to cast a vote in the East were different than that in the West.
Currently, voting eligibility was tied directly to membership standing. If you were a member in good standing in the East or West, you could vote on contracts, strikes, credits, etc. The rub is that the West and East have very different membership standards.
In the West, you must achieve a certain amount of employment in order to qualify for initial membership. Initial membership lasts seven years. Your membership also extends four years from any employment you receive during that time.
In the East, any employment gets you an initial membership period of ten years, and I believe additional employment would accrue another seven years on renewal.
There are plenty of quirks to it, but here are the important points.
West: significant employment required to join, initial period of 7 years, renewal periods of 4 years
East: any employment at all suffices to join, initial period of 10 years, renewal periods of 7 years
You can see the problem already, right? Say you get a renewal period starting in 2003, but you don’t work from that date. You can’t vote on the 2008 contract in the West. But same circumstances…and you can in the East. Say a new member gets in to the West by selling a spec feature in 2000, and doesn’t work again. She can’t vote in 2008 in the West…but she can in the East.
The Way Things Will Be (if this passes, and it should, so vote yes!)
Under this proposal, the unions cleverly separate (partially) the standards for membership in the two unions from the standards for joint voting. The membership rules will remain the same in the East and West, but in order to be eligible for joint votes, there is now one standard.
And it’s a good one, IMO.
The standard is simple. In terms of the big contract for film and TV writers, there are two ways to qualify, with a big and wonderful IF.
Are you a lifetime current member of the union (i.e. have you accrued 15 years of health & pension eligibility)? Good. You get to vote.
Have you earned at least $30,000 in WGA-covered contracts during the six years preceding the vote in question? Good. You get to vote.
So why do I love this so much?
A couple of reasons.
First, it tightens eligibility for voting, and that’s a good thing. Look at poor SAG, beset by a hundred thousand members, 90,000 of whom just don’t work. It’s hard to run a union and take critical votes on strikes and contracts when the people voting aren’t really directly affected by the results.
In the East, you could go TEN YEARS without working and still vote on a strike or contract or credits change. That’s ridiculous. Even in the West, you could go seven years and say the same. Also bad.
These amendments help make these votes more about working writers and less about chronically unemployed card-carriers.
Where it used to be 7 and 4 for the West, it’s now 6 and 4.
Where it used to be 10 and 7 for the East, it’s now 6 in all cases.
Is it perfectly aligned? No. Is it almost perfectly aligned? Yes. Is it an improvement in every way over what we have now?
Oh, and if that weren’t all, the proposal scraps the absurd “survey” method of figuring out who belongs in what union, as well as the bizarre Ecumenical Council-like division of international writers between the two unions, and reverts back to the old method, which worked just fine.
Lastly, it keeps the Negotiating Committee proportionate by membership, but sets a floor of four members for the East. That’s fine. It used to be two, now it’s four, big deal. The ugly truth of Negotiating Committees is that they’re there to put a membership face on the doings of the President, NegCom chair and Executive Director.
And Why Is This Really Such A Big Deal?
Because now that our joint voting standards have been unified, our two unions are one step closer to becoming one union. I have met not one single television or feature writer in either the WGAw OR the WGAE who doesn’t think we ought to be one union. It’s obvious. Aside from the elimination of god knows how much in redundant expenditures, one union simply makes us stronger.
I won’t lie and say that merger is right around the corner. But it sure feels closer today than it did last week.
So to Patric and the Board and whomever else did the hard work of negotiating this fine proposal, I say “Thank you…and enjoy the muffins.”
Got this from my friend Michael Tabb, who volunteers on the WGA Events committee…
STUDIO DEVELOPMENT: FROM SCRIPT TO GREENLIGHT (free event, free parking) Thursday, 2/26, 7:30 p.m. WGA Theater, 135 S. Doheny Dr., Beverly Hills. RSVP: (323) 782-4602. On the Thursday after the Oscars, join the WGA Writers Education Committee in a discussion about studio feature development today and all the players, from scribe all the way up the “ladder.”
Panelists include: the screenwriter Jonathan Hensleigh (Armageddon, The Punisher, The Rock); JC Spink from BenderSpink management; development executive Navid McIlhargey (Sr. VP of Production at New Regency; previously of Silver Pictures); producer Derek Dauchy (President of Davis Entertainment); studio executive David Beaubaire (VP of Production at Paramount; previously studio executive of DreamWorks and Warner Brothers – he knows how each works); and a Surprise Guest. And if you just want to just support me, I have the responsibility of moderating the panel.
At the end of the panel, there will be an audience Q&A via note cards, where we will ask this group of execs YOUR burning questions (in case I missed it). What do you most want answered by those who hold our dreams in their hands? I will try to get real answers. Think about it…
Members in good standing, plus a guest. It is also open to film school students and alumni from USC, UCLA, and NYU Tisch west as well. Seats are limited. Please tell and forward this to your writing staffs, team you went on strike with, all your writer friends and writing groups. This is going to be a very informative night with an opportunity to get to know these big, behind-the-scenes decision-makers who can get our projects made, which means something in this economy.
Quick update on the SAG situation. The moderates sat down to bargain in good faith, as expected.
The AMPTP pulled the nonsense off the table (French hours, the force majeure stuff) as expected.
And now the AMPTP has decided to get too aggressive, which, sadly, was also expected (at least by me).
The AMPTP is asking that the contract run a full three years instead of expiring when it would have had SAG renewed the deal right after the end of their last one. The reason the companies want this is to throw SAG “off cycle” with the WGA. They don’t want the WGA and SAG to team up and strike together in 2011.
The SAG moderates have rejected that, as well they should have, IMO. First, for everyone who thought that “moderate” meant “weak” or “sell-out” or “caving,” this would be a good time to acknowledge how wrong you were. ”Moderate” means “moderate.” Moderates are just as capable of seeing a bad deal and rejecting it.
The change of contract terminus is a new wrinkle, and the AMPTP needs to get it off the table.
For the first time in a long time, the AMPTP is the reason there isn’t a settled deal with the actors. By all accounts, the fundamentals of the deal is done. This is not the time to be punishing the SAG moderates for the behavior of the SAG militants. This is the time to justify union moderation with a deal.
AMPTP, you made a lot of mistakes leading up to the WGA strike. Your playbook against SAG was pretty smart until now. This one’s a mistake.
I know it’s hard, but try not to sting the frog. We all need to get across this river, and fast.
I’m lifting the restrictions on commenting. It’s now open to any and all comers. If I get buried with spam again, I’ll have to go back to the old way, but for now, it’s wide open.
Sometimes I forget how long I’ve been writing this blog. I remember that I’d done an article about “free rewrites” way back when…but I was a little shocked to see that it was nearly four years ago.
Seems like I started this site just yesterday…ah, memories.
Anyway, that article was a net I cast for suggestions on how to deal with free rewrites. For the few of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, some producers and studios ask the writer for more work once they receive the draft…but not as a new step with fresh payment. Instead, the rewrite is considered part of the ongoing step, or an intermediate step, or a “producer’s pass,” a freebie, a give-away…
“Rip-off” is often a good descriptor.
It’s been going on for a long time. The WGA took the companies to arbitration over it and lost. The arbitrator ruled that per our collective bargaining agreement, our contracts must specify a “delivery agent.” Unless we deliver to that delivery agent, we haven’t actually contractually finished the step, and any work that we choose to do until that point is our problem, not the producers’ or the companies’.
It was a fine legal ruling inasmuch as it stuck to the letter of the law. It was a bad legal ruling inasmuch as it ignored what’s become a rampant culture of threats and abuse. The fact that the legal delivery agent is often the head of the studio, with whom most writers never even speak, makes the status quo even less satisfactory.
Here’s the typical nightmare scenario. A relatively new writer, no credits yet, is hired to do a rewrite for $250,000. That 250K is divided up in his contract like so: $175,000 for the first draft, and $75,000 for the second draft. The writer finishes his first draft and gives it to his producer, who insists upon reading it first. He’s been told by the studio to read it first. He always reads it first.
He has notes. He gives them to the writer and says, “Do these before we turn this in, or you’re not going to last on this project.” Or he says, “Do these before we turn this in, because if you do then we’ll get Actor A or Director B to attach themselves. You don’t want to kill the momentum, do you?” The writer acquiesces and does the work. The producer still isn’t happy. He demands another pass. And another. Finally, the writer puts his foot down and says, “I’m not doing five drafts for the price of one.”
At that point, the producer calls the writer’s agent and says that he’s never working with the writer again, he’s telling the studio what a crappy job he did, etc.
And it happens all the time.
This has to end. It’s costing individual writers time and money, and it’s costing the Guild untold losses in dues.
Unfortunately, the cures I’ve heard proposed over the years are almost as bad as the disease. I was talking about these with some friends, who had been talking about them with their friends. I’m going to go through the possible solutions, discuss why I don’t think they’re wise, and then propose my own solution…the same drum I’ve been banging on this for years. Maybe the WGA will perk up and take notice this time.
This was was actually tried. The idea is that the Guild subpoena its own members, who are theoretically violating Guild working rules by doing free passes. The writers are forced to cough up names, and the Guild goes after those names. Unfortunately, since the arbitration ruling, the Guild can’t really claim that the free passes are violations. And, of course, firing a gun at your own soldiers is rarely the best way to win a war.
Dan Petrie Jr. proposed this in 2004. The idea is that the Guild would grant certain writers waivers to do “free passes”, but deny those passes to others. Why? Well, free writing is mostly a problem for writers who aren’t getting paid millions. For instance, I know a writer who doesn’t like working in “steps.” Rather, he prefers to work with producers or studios until the project is either good to greenlight, dead, or he feels like he’s given it his all. He gets paid well into the seven figures, and I don’t see any reason why the Guild should interfere with his process–it’s working for him and just as importantly, it’s generating big dues for the union. Under Dan’s system, that writer would get a waiver, but the $175,000 writer would not.
The problem with this? First, the arbitration sort of mooted it. Second, people seemed quite squeamish about institutionalizing a tiered system of governance based on individual success. Third, it created a bureaucratic challenge, and lastly, if the $175K writer was afraid to say “no” to the producer asking for free work, it’s just as likely they’ll be afraid to ask the Guild for a waiver. They’ll just do the free pass and pray.
One writer proposed to me that the WGA should audio record all meetings and telephone discussions between every writer and every producer or studio exec. Those recordings would then be transcribed, and the Guild would study them for demands for free work.
I’ll let you all figure out the four thousand reasons why that’s a non-starter.
REGISTERING DRAFTS WITH THE GUILD
This is one of the more popular solutions. The Guild would require every member to send in each draft they did. The Guild would then tell the producers or studios to pay up. In order to avoid the “weak link” syndrome of a writer simply not turning the draft in and doing what the producer wanted, the Guild would only allow “registered” drafts to be eligible as literary material in a credit arbitration.
Here’s why this would not work. First, the Guild is pretty bad at getting money out of producers and studios. The WGA’s track record in this area is rather depressing; when I was serving on the Board in 2006, there were open cases relating to nonpayment that dated back to the 90′s. Second, the threat of drafts being ineligible for credit is a bit toothless. Even if it turned out that this was legally defensible, most writers typically submit one draft for credit purposes anyway. If a guy writes four free drafts to get the fifth paid one, it’s more than likely that the fifth one is going to be the only one relevant to a credit arbitration. Lastly, the arbitration moots this once again. If the Guild calls up and says “pay John Smith for the draft he just registered with us” and the studio says, “Sorry, the contractually designated delivery agent hasn’t received it” and the writer is under pressure from the producer not to submit it to that delivery agent, the Guild is left holding an unloaded gun.
Okay, so those are the most common suggestions. What’s my solution? How should the Guild solve the free rewrite problem?
Answer: it should first acknowledge that it can’t.
The Guild has wasted years deluding itself into thinking that it must be the source of the solution. I can understand why. It feels precisely like the sort of collective problem the Guild specifically exists to solve. That, however, doesn’t obviate the fact that it can’t. The reason the Guild can’t solve the problem is because it centers on two forces the Guild cannot control: employer greed and employee fear.
The Guild can compensate for employer greed by collective bargaining and striking. The Guild can compensate for employee fear by creating counterfears like disciplinary action. Unfortunately, the arbitration essentially took away both kinds of compensation in one fell swoop.
So to whom should they turn?
The agencies don’t collectively bargain with studios. They bargain individually, thousands of times a year. And yet, as institutions themselves, they bring to bear their collective might from time to time. The studios don’t need the WGA to like them, but they need CAA to like them. They need Endeavor and WMA and UTA and ICM to like them.
My proposal is quite simple.
The WGA should send a small envoy of high profile screenwriters to meet with the heads of each of the big agencies. At that meeting, the envoy should explain why for certain clients in certain situations, the agency, not the agent or client, but the agency should make clear to the producers and studios that as a matter of policy they will not allow their clients to engage in abusive rewrite situations.
The employers know that the one relationship they cannot circumvent is the client-agent relationship. Until now, agents have done the most expedient thing possible; they’ve urged their clients to play ball.
We need to point out to the agencies that they’re actually losing money by playing ball.
Now, how do we define which writers deserve the policy protection of the agency? And how do we define the difference between a producer’s pass that the writer really wants to do, and a situation in which the writing is being coerced?
We don’t. We can’t. That ship has sailed.
Instead, we let the agency make the determination. We urge them to change their own culture, and by extension the employer culture. We ask the agencies to admit to themselves which of their clients are at risk, and then we ask the agencies to protect those clients as a matter of policy.
Is it perfect? No. Is it better than what we have? Yes. Is it better than anything the WGA has achieved institutionally?
Considering that the WGA hasn’t achieved anything institutionally to address this problem, the answer is clearly “yes.”
This is pretty compelling reading from Mike Farrell, who attended the recent SAG Hollywood Board meeting with James Cromwell.
During the WGA strike, I caught a ration of venom from some folks because I dared disagree with leadership, but I don’t think it was ever as bad as what Mike is describing here.
To those SAG actors who are attempting to improve their union’s fortunes while getting screamed at by a bunch of loonies, all I can say is that there are a whole lot of people out there who are behind you. We may not scream and yell and pull stunts, but we’re behind you.
Nikki Finke asks:
Here’s what I don’t understand: SAG’s new leaders determined the contents of the January 26th written assent. They set the agenda for today’s special videoconference meeting. They had a 59% majority in the palm of its hand today. Yet they still haven’t moved to table the Strike Authorization Vote which is sitting out there waiting to be used. Didn’t the different factions that formed the Strike National Majority – Unite For Strength, the NY Division, and the Regional Branches — campaign about how disastrous that Strike Authorization threat was for SAG members and for the entertainment business in general? Didn’t they claim that it was the reason no one had work and production was stalled? Didn’t they argue that a Strike Authorization Vote was not the way to achieve negotiating leverage with the AMPTP? Didn’t they oppose their persona non grata Doug Allen’s January attempt to table it? They’ve now had four separate opportunities to do away with the Strike Authorization threat. SO WHAT ARE THEY WAITING FOR?It’s very simple.
The reasons MF’s demand for a Strike Authorization Vote was dangerous and worth campaigning against were:
MF didn’t seem to be negotiating responsibly, and
The conventional wisdom was that MF’s negotiation strategy was to go ahead a strike
Now, the fact that U4S apparently plans to negotiate responsibly with the AMPTP doesn’t mean they should negotiate without the possibility of a strike. It costs U4S nothing to keep the possibility alive, particularly because the expectation is that they won’t have to use it.
Imagine two cops negotiating with a hostage taker. One cop wants to rush in and beat the hostage taker over the head with a nightstick. The other wants to first try and talk the guy into giving up the hostage.
It’s probably best to bench the “let’s hit him with a stick” cop. But that doesn’t mean the “let’s talk first” cop ought to toss his billy club away.
There seems to be a strange epidemic of “either/or” thinking around these topics. Patric Verrone described the limitations of this philosophy perfectly when he said we needed a third option beyond “Strike or Cave.” He didn’t actually find that third option, though, which I think was best articulated by TR when he said we ought to “walk softly and carry a big stick.”
Alan and Doug didn’t walk softly. Neither did Patric. Both parties got beligerent in the press very early on, lobbed threats, got personal and basically acted like guys looking for a fight. John Wells, on the other hand, walked softly in 2001, and that soft walk combined with the big stick of a strike threat got the WGA (and everyone else) the fantastic New Media rental rate of 1.2% of 100%–a rate that exceeds anything we and the DGA got through our strike action.
The trick, if you want to call it that, is to ensure the other side believes you’re capable of making a deal without striking, while simultaneously ensuring the other side believes you have the willingness and capability to go with a strike.
Otherwise, they just assume you’re gonna strike or cave anyway, and suddenly your playbook is down to one maneuver.
The reason U4S opposed Doug Allen’s proposal to table the SAV was simple. He bundled that idea with a proposal to send the AMPTP’s “last best” offer to the membership. Doug’s proposal was a thinly-veiled, passive aggressive way to back his union into a strike, because the AMPTP’s “last best” offer isn’t, in fact, the best offer gettable without a strike. And U4S is going to prove that by getting a better offer from the companies.
At that moment, the membership will vote. And if the membership doesn’t like that deal, and the AMPTP won’t go further, then you call the SAV.
Remember: you need the other side to believe two things to bargain effectively.
They have to believe you can make a deal without striking.
They have to believe you can and will strike if that’s your best option.
Alan and Doug couldn’t convince the AMPTP that they were capable of the first statement.
And there’s no reason U4S should convince the AMPTP they’re incapable of the second.
Like I said…simple.
As most of us who read the complaint expected, the judge denied in full Rosenberg & Co’s request for a restraining order.
These days, I’m getting most of my breaking news and links to analysis from the very excellent SAGWatch. The editors there write well, post frequently and encourage healthy, civil discussions. Hop over there for more on this unsurprising but gratifying result.
You’ve all heard the news. Alan Rosenberg and three of his political allies filed a lawsuit against SAG claiming…ugh, I can’t even retype it.
I think the best word for their legal argument is “wharrgarbl,” as in:
The judge that threw it out today certainly thought it was wharrgarbl, and one suspects that he will continue to think so when it is refiled again in three days.
Now remember this, folks, because it’s illuminating.
Consider what Alan and three other SAG militants are doing. They are suing their union because they want to restore Doug Allen to the E.D. position, get a “no” vote from the membership on the current, untweaked AMPTP offer, then get a “yes” on a strike authorization vote, and then strike.
BUT…even as they file this action, remember that the following are facts that will not change.
The moderates have a majority on the national board.
Doug Allen has been FIRED, and even if the job fairy waved her wand and gave him his gig back, he’s lost all standing and credibility.
The national board will not send the current offer to the membership even if Alan and Co. prevail in court.
There’s an election coming in a few months, and in the last election, the vote trended very strongly toward the moderates.
The strategy that Alan Rosenberg is pursuing seemingly has no concern for results at all. It’s entirely about process. Instead of suing to achieve something, you sue to express your rage.
The War On Drugs is like this too. Decades have come and gone, billions have been spent, lives have been destroyed…and drugs continue to be available to those who wish to use them.
In many ways, the WGAw reality organizing campaign has become results-blind as well. We’re going on Year Four of this grand effort, and after millions of dollars up in smoke, the WGAw still can’t point to one single reality show they’ve organized.
At their best, militants inspire and provoke people in ways that moderates cannot. At their worst, you get this. Strategies that aren’t strategies at all, but simply endless conflicts designed to do nothing but satisfy the free-floating desire to “do something!” and “fight!”
Or, for short, wharrgarbl.
There are days when I look at the WGA west and feel mildly hopeful. Most days, I try not to think about what’s going on over there.
And then there are days like this one, where all I can do is stare in shock and disgust.
Vicki Riskin has been given the Valentine Davies Award.
Why do I care? Why should you care? Well, because this isn’t about an award. This is about politics, corruption and dishonorable behavior. It’s about ambition and pride.
So sit back, and I’ll tell you a tale.
Our union, like most, has always had its moderates and militants. For many years, the philosophical leader of the militant wing of the WGAw was a man named David Rintels. David served both on the Board and as President. David is married to Victoria Riskin, daughter of noted screenwriter Robert Riskin. Vicki was elected President of the WGAw in 2001, and won reelection in 2003.
She is, by most accounts, a very personable woman. Her philanthropic resume is extremely impressive. So, why should it have been controversial when she was first awarded the Valentine Davies Award…back in 2005?
After all, she’s screenwriting royalty, she served her union, she’s involved in numerous charities…doesn’t she fit the following description to a T?
The WGAW’s Valentine Davies Award is given to writers who have contributed to the entertainment industry and community at large, bringing dignity and honor to the profession of writing everywhere.As it turns out, she does not fit this description at all.
You see, when she ran for reelection in 2003, she had an eligibility problem. And she knew it.
In order to qualify as a candidate for office in the WGA, you have to be a member in good standing. In order to be a member in good standing, once your initial 7 year membership period lapses, you must actually get employment as a writer. Doing so buys you another four years of membership.
According to an internal investigation brought about by legal action from Riskin’s opponent, Eric Hughes, Ms. Riskin was not employed as a writer during the four years leading up to her candidacy. Not even once.
This gives rise to the first question: how could someone who hadn’t been able to muster any employment as a writer for four years honestly put themselves forth as President of the WRITERS guild? And mind you, I’m not talking about someone who had achieved “lifetime current” status by accruing 15 years of current active membership, and then chose to serve after retiring.
No, she hadn’t gotten there at all.
Well, it wasn’t for lack of trying. Rintels and Riskin went and got a contract for an option for a treatment (not exactly a traditional arrangment in Hollywood, and for about twelve grand at that, leading many to suspect that it was a baloney contract), and attempted to time the contract specifically to qualify Riskin for eligibility to run for reelection. Unfortunately for them, they muffed the timing, and the truth eventually came out after she had won reelection.
Now…let’s say it’s you or me. We get caught. Not eligible. What do we do? I’m guessing that if I were in that position, I’d quietly go the hell away. Resign for “personal reasons” or something, and just slink off.
But not Vicki. She lawyered up, and she fought it. She even had the temerity to request that the WGAw pay her legal fees. With our dues!
The independent investigation found that she was ineligible. She was forced to resign. The union did not pay her legal fees, but the Riskin Affair cost our guild plenty in costs for the independent investigation, it eventually led to a federally-supervised election,we came under Department of Labor scrutiny, and a governance committee was tasked with overhauling the rules of our elections.
And for a while, that was all we heard from Ms. Riskin.
Then, in 2005, during a poorly-attended Board meeting that had been called just a week before, a group of Board members voted to give Vicki Riskin the Valentine Davies Award.
Remember, this is the award given to a WRITER who brings DIGNITY AND HONOR to the PROFESSION OF WRITING. They were giving this award to the very woman who had brought indignity and dishonor to the guild just a year or so before?
I was on the Board at the time, but I wasn’t at the meeting. When I heard what happened, I sort of popped a gasket. It’s never the inexplicable that enrages, but the all-too-obvious. At the time of the vote, David Rintels and Vicki Riskin were lending their name and their money and even their home to the nascent “Writers United” slate, which would famously came to power under Patric Verrone just a few months later. And who was backing this award? Why, none other than many of the political bedmates of that slate, including Patric Verrone and Elias Davis.
It’s hard to prove a quid pro quo, but you could smell the reek on this one from a thousand miles away.
I remember at the time that the legendary Larry Gelbart–a past recipient of the Valentine Davies Award himself–noted with disgust that the award to Vicki would have to come with an “asteriskin.”
I have borrowed that bit of Gelbartian genius for my title today.
But what I did then was simple. I introduced a motion at the very next Board meeting to rescind the award. Ms. Riskin simply did not deserve it. I have no doubt that she is a good person who has done many good things, but earning a reward for bringing dignity and honor to the profession of screenwriting isn’t one of them.
With the full Board present, my motion passed. The award was rescinded.
This week, it was announced that Vicki Riskin has–once again–been given the Valentine Davies Award. The 2005 Board of Directors was balanced; that is obviously no longer the case.
As I often do, I find something to admire in Patric even as I disapprove of what he’s done. In this case, I salute his patience.
His action, however, remains indefensible.
Are we to honestly believe that of the thousands of members of the WGAw, there is not ONE more suited to the Valentine Davies Award than a woman who had to resign in disgrace from the office of President? There is not ONE who cost our union less? Not ONE who has brought more dignity and honor to the profession than a writer with one single credit? A writer with eligiblity problems?
Is there not ONE more writer who is more of a writer?
But you know…
…here’s what really blows my mind.
I get why Patric and Co. are rewarding her. Rintels and Riskin supported their cause. They brought them along politically, and we all feel loyalty to the people who inspired us to service. I certainly feel that way toward Dan Petrie, Jr. and John Wells, for instance. There are worse things to be than blinded by loyalty.
What I don’t get is–why does she still want the damned award?
Didn’t she realize that this award would dredge it all up again? Didn’t she know that she would never ever ever be able to truly gain something this ill-gotten?
I guess it’s just a matter of pride to some people. I guess there are people out there who just…love…getting…awards.
And I guess there are people out there who honestly feel this award is not only deserved, but a redemption for Ms. Riskin as well.
To those people, I say “Nuts.”
Whatever joy this award brings to her or them, it will no doubt pass.
But the asteriskin is forever.