Veteran member William Schmidt is challenging the presidency of David Goodman in the upcoming Writers Guild of America West election. Schmidt disagrees with the way that Goodman has handled the bitter standoff between Hollywood writers and their agents. Two weeks ago, Goodman announced that the guild has called off negotiations with the Association of Talent Agents and will instead negotiate individually with the nine agencies. The Writers Guild is working toward enforcing a complete ban on packing fees and affiliated production for agents of guild members.
Schmidt is a 37 year-old member of the guild who served on the WGA West board from 1990-92 and on the 1988 negotiating committee. His credits include Outsiders, Charmed, and Yellowstone. Unlike most guild members, Schmidt has not fired his agent from ICM Partners. He has not been disciplined by the Writers Guild for failing to do so.
“I don’t think the leadership has thought this through,” Schmidt said in regards to Goodman’s directive for members to fire all agents. “Leadership violated the WGA Constitution by demanding that membership write letters firing their agents. There is nothing in that Constitution, a set of rules developed by hundreds of writers over many decades, that allows such a thing. These letters must be rescinded.”
Schmidt said that the current stalemate between Hollywood writers and their agents is hurting most members of the WGA West, which represents around 9,000 members. According to Schmidt, the letters to fire agents have created “an unprecedented level of fear and mistrust.”
Back in March, members of the WGA voted overwhelmingly for tightening restrictions on their agents, which eventually led to the April 13 directive to fire agents who did not sign the code. Schmidt said the intent of this vote was to give leadership the power to negotiate. “We didn’t vote for a jihad against agents,” Schmidt said. “We must get back to the negotiating table ASAP and hammer out a deal.”
Schmidt is running for the election via petition, under which members can submit member signatures by July 23rd. Two candidates seeking WGA board seats, Rasheed Newson and Ayelet Waldman, have also voiced their concerns about the handling of negotiations with the Association of Talent Agents.
The election results will be announced on September 16.