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Credit Checks

July 25, 1993

Regarding "3 on the Towne, or How to Get a 'Firm' Writing Credit," by Jane Galbraith (Film Clips, July 4):

Galbraith writes that Robert Towne is furious because David Rabe received first credit on the shooting script of "The Firm," quoting Towne: "(Rabe) typed the name Mitch McDeere. I'm quite serious. That's all it takes for a first writer on any adaptation to get credit."

The guild's spokeswoman was mushy in response, stating that the WGA rules committee "is reviewing the entire credits manual," giving the impression that Towne's complaint has sparked the review. Not so.

As a past member of the WGA board of directors for 26 years, I can state that all guild procedures undergo constant review.

Scripts are coded, panelists (three, sometimes six) anonymous even to each other. It is a peer process and, I believe, essentially fair and serviceable. Perfect? By no means, but we keep trying to improve.

Towne is a talented craftsman and should use his stature to address grievances. Years ago he had the opportunity and did not avail himself. He was elected to the guild's board of directors and did not attend a single meeting during his entire two-year term.


Los Angeles


Towne's complaint about being treated unjustly by the Writers Guild is out of line.

Contrary to his statement that "The Firm" was his first arbitration, he was in fact awarded his credit on "Days of Thunder" through a guild arbitration. And I'm pretty sure the other writers on that project who were excluded from credit felt just as unjustly treated then as Towne does now, but they didn't feel the need to attack the guild in the press.

Look, fellows, we know it's an imperfect system. But it's a judgment call made by your peers, and we really do understand how, after you've laboriously typed--or dictated, as some do--all those pages, you feel as if it's all your very own creation.

Just keep in mind that, like Towne, you're going to lose some and you're going to win some.


Van Nuys

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