Candidates square off in WGA, West presidential election contest


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The heat is turning up in the upcoming Writers Guild of America, West presidential election.

Christopher Keyser, a board member and co-creator of the TV show ‘Party of Five,’ squared off against the better known Patric M. Verrone, the former guild president who led the union through the 2007-2008 strike, in the election booklet sent to members this week.


In his message, Verrone touted his experience and knowledge of the union. The animation writer said he wanted to put the guild back on a more activist course by organizing additional shows to cover writers who work in cable TV and video games.

Verrone said the guild’s position in Hollywood and the American labor movement had ‘atrophied.’

‘For much of our 75-year history we have been at the vanguard of progressive thought and activism. Through careful and considered organizing efforts, tempered by a keen sense of member involvement and satisfaction, we can return there in the future.’

Keyser positioned himself as a more pragmatic choice and criticized Verrone’s past organizing efforts, including an ill-fated effort to organize workers in reality TV.

‘What we need to be wary of is our own version of political dynasties, weighed down by old antagonisms, old baggage, old political fault lines that undermine in big and small ways our ability to sit down next to our ought-to-be allies and across from our employers and turn the page toward progress.’

Although Keyser is the lesser known of the two candidates he has lined up some high-level support, among them writer-directors J.J. Abrams and outgoing guild president John Wells, and a majority of members of the 2007-2008 negotiating committee.


Verrone’s supporters include Matthew Weiner, executive producer of the AMC TV show ‘Mad Men,’ and screenwriter Paul Haggis.

In addition to the officer positions, 17 candidates have been nominated to run for eight open seats on the writers union board. Guild members will cast ballots Sept. 15.


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-- Richard Verrier