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Writers Guild--irreconcilable Differences

September 08, 1985

John Horn's article on the inner turmoil of the Writers Guild of America, West missed three salient points ("Gunfight at the Writers Guild Corral," Sept. 1):

First, there is a deep division in the Writers Guild that is, in all probability, irreconcilable. Most of the guild members write exclusively for TV. Since only a smidgen of TV properties ever make it to the videocassette market, these writers had nothing to gain by staying on strike.

Given the fact that the small number of WGAW members who write for movies usually make much more than TV writers, the TV writers had two motives, jealously and self-interest, in wanting a quick end to the strike.

Second, the expressions of concern for young writers and future members of the guild by members of the board, are nothing more than ludicrous hypocrisy. The overriding concern of many WGAW board members is keeping the guild as their private fiefdom.

The guild exists solely for the protection and economic betterment of its current members. The more people they keep out of the guild, the more work there is for them.

Unlike the Directors guild, which has a strong apprentice program, and other entertainment guilds which maintain waiting lists, the WGAW does nothing, repeat nothing , to assist new writers in learning their craft, or selling their wares.

Yet once you have made a sale, the WGA swoops down like a vulture to skim off its share. The fact that the guild did nothing to help you earn it, indeed tried its best to keep you from earning it, doesn't seem to bother anybody. That's why I have to laugh whenever I hear writers talking about how sleazy and double-dealing producers are. Does it take one to know one?

Third, the guild is built on a democratic aberration in that the Board selects candidates for the next board. This creates a nice, incestuous relationship in which a relatively small circle of cronies take turns replacing each other.

Lest anyone think that I am anti-union, I would like to point out that my father was a lifelong union man in the building trades. When I contrast my father's union with the selfish, cowardly, and self-serving attitudes of the WGA, I know why it is derisively referred to as the Whiners Guild of America.


Redondo Beach

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