Outspoken playwright and TV author Jon Robin Baitz has turn into the primary WGA member to overtly problem the guild’s directive that members fireplace their expertise brokers.
Baitz penned a letter to WGA leaders explaining his refusal to sever ties together with his representatives at CAA, praising Bryan Lourd, Joe Cohen and others for sticking by him throughout unhealthy instances together with after the 2007-2008 strike. He credited Cohen with guiding him into the profitable profession as a TV author and collection creator.
“He believed I might do it, might have my very own present, might make compelling and viable TV. He by no means stopped believing in me and due to that, I by no means gave up. And I really like him,” Baitz wrote.
Baitz, recognized for ABC’s “Brothers and Sisters” and quite a few performs, additionally slams the WGA for what he describes as extreme rhetoric that WGA has utilized in speaking with its members on the problems at stake within the guild’s company franchise negotiations with the Affiliation of Expertise Brokers.
Baitz accused the guild of getting “negotiated its authentic issues in a way so bellicose, so histrionic, so missing in scale and perspective, that in my view, you’ve gotten betrayed the pursuits of the membership.”
He expressly requires a change within the management model on the guild. “It’s time for a mature, measured, and thought of philosophy, one that doesn’t rely on the politics of divisiveness to which we’ve turn into all-too accustomed,” Baitz wrote. “It’s time for grown-ups who don’t solid the whole enterprise into chaos and darkness. It’s time for a management that sees the huge adjustments occurring within the enterprise, and acknowledges that writers are usually not surrounded by perpetual enemies.”
Reps for the WGA West didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark Monday night.
Baitz is the exception to the overwhelming stage of help the guild has generated amongst members with its marketing campaign to reform the foundations that govern company illustration of WGA members, together with a ban on companies taking packaging charges and fascinating with author shoppers in affiliated manufacturing offers. The Affiliation of Expertise Brokers, which reps the vast majority of important expertise companies, has balked on the WGA’s tried overhaul. The WGA on April 12 informed its members to sever ties with brokers that refuse to stick to the guild’s newly applied Company Code of Conduct.
Beginning Friday night time, a gentle stream of outstanding showrunners and screenwriters started sharing their company termination letters and expressing solidarity with the guild. Many have additionally expressed their very own remorse and appreciation for long-serving and hard-working representatives. There’s recognized to be quite a lot of outstanding showrunners who’ve put some stress on the guild to discover a answer to the company scramble, however to this point solely Baitz has been vocal in a public means together with his criticism.
One high agent quipped on Monday that the social media posts from writers declaring their remorse at having to fireside longtime devoted representatives “was beginning to sound lots like ‘ideas and prayers.’ ”
Right here is Baitz’s letter in full:
To the Guild Management:
I’m deeply saddened to say I can’t go together with your insistence that I fireplace my brokers at CAA. This, regardless of my fervent perception within the WGA’s mission and accomplishments.
First, I’ve made a cope with WIIP, a studio owned partly by CAA. If I have been to fireside them, I’d be a hypocrite, which is one thing I attempt very onerous to keep away from in life, with admittedly combined outcomes. Let me level out, my deal at WIIP for Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win, which has an on-air order of eight episodes from Amazon, is the very best I’ve ever made. (You declare these profitable offers are “loss leaders”, based mostly on I do know not what.) I, in flip, have employed three members of the WGA at producer ranges, and am making a author’s assistant, a feminine variety rent, right into a workers author throughout the first order. However extra importantly, I’ve to be trustworthy about my relationship with my brokers, which I feel isn’t all that uncommon.
Bryan Lourd and I’ve been associates for over thirty-five years. Like many writers and their reps, our friendship started effectively earlier than we each had achieved no matter stage of success now we have. I met him when he was beginning out, and I used to be a younger LA playwright represented by Michael Peretzian and George Lane, who have been William Morris brokers on the time. They each ultimately turned brokers at CAA.
Brian Siberell at CAA turned my agent in 2000, however we first met in 1986 when George Lane launched us. Brian labored at HBO. I used to be a poor playwright, and he purchased a script from me, and it paid for my existence in NY for over a 12 months. I feel it was a $27,000 deal. Once more, I don’t suppose it’s all that uncommon to have this type of deeply crammed private historical past with one’s agent.
In 2002, Joe Cohen at CAA requested me to consider working in TV. Aaron Sorkin had requested me to jot down an episode of West Wing, which I did, and which was shot just about word-for-word. Joe made that deal for a lot of instances the WGA minimal. I beloved the work. In 2006, he made a deal for me to jot down a pilot for ABC, based mostly on a pitch about an American household battling legacy, privilege, and their very own historical past and ideological clashes. He noticed me by way of Brothers & Sisters, and he was trustworthy, forthright, sort and straight-shooting, even after I created a state of affairs that would solely lead to my being fired from my very own present. He was affected person with me and understanding. He additionally taught me to suppose when it comes to TV scripts. He believed I might do it, might have my very own present, might make compelling and viable TV. He by no means stopped believing in me and due to that, I by no means gave up. And I really like him.
ABC/Disney force-majeured me out of my very own present within the wake of the WGA strike in 07/08, throughout which I used to be outspoken on behalf of the objectives we have been attempting to attain. The Guild just about shrugged, and I used to be by myself, however Joe Cohen and Bryan Lourd caught by me, and Brian Siberell made certain I went again to work straight away, as quickly as I might course of this trauma. All of them believed in me. So far as I do know, I used to be the one WGA member with a present ON THE AIR to be pressured out by a so-called Act of God clause.
I’ve supported the Guild as a matter of conscience since I turned a member over 30 years in the past. However one thing has occurred. I’m watching individuals I really like being characterised as racketeers and criminals. Sure, there are actual adjustments wanted when it comes to the companies and packaging and subsidiary manufacturing firms, however the notion that these individuals are merely avaricious and grasping exploiters is missing in nuance or context, and doesn’t appear to keep in mind the big adjustments within the media panorama and the ever-increasing energy of the studios and streaming companies. By turning our brokers into villains, by insisting on a tone of incivility, you’ve gotten alienated important allies when calm and endurance might have achieved precise outcomes.
Certainly, the WGA has negotiated its authentic issues in a way so bellicose, so histrionic, so missing in scale and perspective, that in my view, you’ve gotten betrayed the pursuits of the membership. You’ve employed a scorched earth coverage that disregards the numerous, and in my case, life-changing, investments that brokers have made in our careers — the limitless hours, the conversations, the hand-holding, and, specifically, the nurturing and safety of youthful, rising voices.
The Management went to battle avidly, and with glee, and everybody studying this is aware of this to be true. There was blood lust at work. David Simon was handled like a rock star for spinning out a situation wherein he might slash the tires of brokers. Membership was tickled. Personal that. Writers cheered him on, desperate to topple the Evil Massive Three. No perspective was allowed. No consideration of the altering dynamics of the leisure trade was permitted. Our brokers at the moment are our enemies.
I consider it’s time for a brand new sort of management to take the helm on the WGA. It’s time for a mature, measured, and thought of philosophy, one that doesn’t rely on the politics of divisiveness to which we’ve turn into all-too accustomed. It’s time for grown-ups who don’t solid the whole enterprise into chaos and darkness. It’s time for a management that sees the huge adjustments occurring within the enterprise, and acknowledges that writers are usually not surrounded by perpetual enemies.
It’s time to reject the white sizzling rage, the will to punish, the urge to tear down the extant buildings, merely within the title of ‘equity’. It’s time for the WGA to be taught that adults come to the desk to seek out options, to not discover trigger for battle.
I’m a union man, however I don’t flip my again on my loyal associates. I can’t be the particular person you need me to be. I can’t lower ties with my brokers, as a result of I’d be forsaking individuals I really like, individuals who have helped me create a life the place I trip between two varieties I do know and love.
The WGA is a valuable, very important, and proud union. The features it has made for writers over time have made it potential to have pensions and medical care that’s unparalleled and to enter into enterprise agreements with the data that the Guild is there to guard and again up its members. And even on this battle, the Guild has worthy objectives — I’m not disputing that. However in all of the many years of preventing studios and networks, in all of the battles with precise adversaries, one thing has spilled over and affected your outlook and viewpoint on this battle with the ATA.
Allow us to not be half of the present cruelty and coarseness of the world. The ATA is listening — you’ve gotten them on the desk. Please discover a means ahead that doesn’t imply disruption and shattered relationships. Do not forget that brokers are people and have feelings, households, dad and mom, and sensitivities, similar to us. I’ve seen too many unintended penalties come true in historical past and in life, and I’m afraid those right here can have tragic penalties.
With sorrow and respect,
Jon Robin Baitz