Animation writer Patric M. Verrone was overwhelmingly elected Tuesday to head the union representing Hollywood screen and TV writers, vowing to take a tougher stance with studios and pledging to step up organizing efforts.
Verrone, whose TV credits include “Futurama,” “Muppets Tonight” and “Rugrats,” won 69% of the 2,012 ballots cast by the Writers Guild of America, West. Currently secretary-treasurer of the 9,000-member union, Verrone defeated “Pirates of the Caribbean” writer Ted Elliott, who had been endorsed by outgoing president Daniel Petrie Jr.
Verrone’s supporters also won all eight director seats up for grabs on the guild’s 19-member board. Also elected on Verrone’s slate: David N. Weiss as vice president and Elias Davis as secretary-treasurer.
“Obviously myself and my running mates are all honored and pleased to be given this opportunity to help rebuild our union,” Verrone said.
Verrone replaces screenwriter Petrie, whose credits include “The Big Easy” and “Beverly Hills Cop.”
A moderate who worked to bolster the union’s health and pension funds, Petrie was a former guild president who was lured back into office last year to help stabilize the union after two presidents -- Victoria Riskin and Charles Holland -- resigned under pressure within three months of each other.
Riskin left in January 2004 after an internal investigation found that she had not written enough to keep her membership current. Holland stepped down after a Los Angeles Times article questioned his claims that he served in an elite military intelligence unit and attended college on a football scholarship.
Petrie was appointed to replace Holland, then won election in September.
In his campaign, Verrone, 45, said the union needed to better organize animation, cable and reality television writers.
He said he would work for better communications with members and push harder on such issues as improving DVD residuals. The guild’s contract with studios expires in 2007.
The union’s campaign to organize writers and editors who work in reality TV shows is an especially sensitive issue, having already created a turf battle with the union that represents editors and its umbrella organization, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.
But Verrone said he hoped to improve relations with the alliance and the union’s counterparts in the Writers Guild of America, East, in New York.
“At the end of the day, it’s not a fight among the unions, it’s an attempt to get better wages and working conditions ... for the talent in this town,” he said.