Aaron Sorkin and Todd Phillips Take the WGA To Task

Todd Phillips (Due Date) and Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) took some angry – and dare we say, legitimate – swipes at the Writers Guild of America about credit for contributing to scripts and about the general purpose for the guild during a THR awards round table.

Let’s just say, this probably wasn’t scripted. In front of WGA West president John Wells, no less! Wow.

[Source: The Hollywood Reporter]

12 thoughts on “Aaron Sorkin and Todd Phillips Take the WGA To Task

  1. realitycheck

    I agree with Shane. Not all guild members have the luxury of A-list agents. ALSO, if you write a script and you’re not an Aaron Sorkin, you most likely won’t get that kind of pay for your script. So if you’re a new writer and your original concept is re-written, they don’t want you to get any credit — which is totally unfair. Many new writers VALUE credit over pay because it helps them to gain recognition as a produced writer and possibly get better deals, agents, etc. The ON-SCREEN credit is valuable to the newbie and I don’t agree with it being taken away just because some has re-written your original idea…after all, it was your original idea.

  2. jim

    well, guess what? the studio EP is right. a writer staff job can be done by ANYBODY.

    it’s the showrunner and the creator that deserve all the money.

    they created the characters, the situations and the season arc.

    the staff writer works out of a well detailed treatment and just fills in the blanks.

    any writer could do that. so, yes, they are overpaid.

  3. Tony

    Unfortunately these two guys work primarily in film. Not in television. toes Aaron Sorkin think studios would pay over $30,000 for a one hour Television script if they weren’t forced to? On my last Staff job the non-writing EP who was essentially the Studio’s guy said he resented having to pay that much for a script. His feeling was there are dozens of writers out there who could do this job, and if wasn’t for the WGA he could pay as little as possible for a script because there would always be some writer who’d take whatever amount he was offering. And he’s RIGHT!

    Aaron and Todd are too far removed from the rest of us 11% to be credible voices in this discussion.

  4. Clem

    @amy… I thought he was pretty clear. Sorkin meant that the power of the Guild is in the roughly 89% of unemployed writers who can vote to strike, and who wouldn’t be working regardless. This creates a divide between them and the 11% of working writers who may not share their interests, yet will be unable to work.

  5. John G

    It would be really great if we could get a transcript … I’m at work right now and can’t listen 🙂

    == John ==

    P.S. reCAPTCHA isn’t working for IE. Yea, but it still needs to work.

  6. RTA

    The word “elitist” is thrown around entirely too much, and I think lessens the argument against people like Mr. Sorkin. I would call him “clueless”, which he admits himself to be. But, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a few valid points.

    This argument comes down to what all arguments usually come down to…compromise. Should the WGA just go away and leave writers to fend for themselves by “writing better”? No. Should the WGA make their credit procedures and rules a little more transparent and simplified? Yes. As with all unions, they were started for a reason. There is no unionized mid-air elephant catchers because elephants can’t fly…but most unions were started by a group of people who were being taken advantage of and desired a greater voice and power. Unfortunately a lot of unions have abused that power and have become as bad a problem as what they were fighting against. That doesn’t mean you dissolve the union.

    That’s because human nature is human nature and excesses and greed will once again try to take advantage of those whose voice/power is smaller. Again, finding a compromise and a way to bring a balanced voice to those whose voices can be drowned out by money and corruption, while making sure to keep from distorting that voice, is the way to go.

  7. kate

    Interesting to me that Shane used the word elitism. That’s exactly how I started this letter…before I had read Shane’s comments, above.

    I had no idea Sorkin was such an elitist. He may claim labor credentials but that was his ancestor… whose struggle paved the way for all American workers — 8 hour days and weekends, brought to you by unions.

    Sorkin seems to think any good writer can make a boatload of money, and right away. Not the case. He got lucky. Lucky to be white, to be male, to be young when he got his first break. Lucky to be talented, too. Gotta give him that. But most of us are not famous or rich, no matter how talented we may be. Some of us need health coverage. And the promise of a pension that will be there whether Social Security is, or not.

    Oh and as for Phillips, perhaps he is unaware that credits are arbitrated by other WGAW members in good standing. And that to be in good standing you have to have worked in the not so distant past. So that’s pretty much as close to a jury of your peers as you’re gonna get.
    Phillips also assumes all writers have agents which is not quite so. Even if all did, the amount each agent would be able to negotiate would be all over the charts, without the union to at least set a livable base wage. If Phillips’ agent can get him more, good for him.

  8. Shane

    NOTE TO SELF: TAKE THE TIME TO PROOF-READ BEFORE CLICKING: I’m not a guild member, but I think Mr. Sorkin and Mr. Phillips’s views are a little narrow. Is the WGA perfect? No. But they obviously are unaware of the WGA’s history, and why it was paramount that writers have a union. Are agents really up to the task of negotiating writing credit for every film that gets made? Arbitrating? Do they have the time? If you’re an A-list writer, you may have more power. But what about the BULK of the members who don’t have the luxury of high-powered agents? Who make less than six-figures a year? Sounds a little bit like elitism.

  9. Shane

    I’m not a guild member, but I think Mr. Sorkin and Mr. Phillips’s views are a little narrow. Is the WGA perfect? No. But they obviously are unaware of the WGA’s history, and why it was paramount that writer’s have a union. Are agent’s really up to the task of negotiating writing credit for every film that gets made? Arbitrating? Do they have the time? If you’re an A-list writer, you may have more power. But what about the BULK of the members who don’t have the luxury of high-powered agents? Who make less than six-figures a year? Sounds a little bit like elitism.

  10. Gary Allison

    Well said and well done. Couldn’t agree anymore. I am an independent writer and recently, as I was negotiating a deal for a script I had wrote, a producer told me that I would not be getting a WGA deal. I responded that that was a good thing, because I didn’t want a WGA deal. I wanted the best deal for my work. In the end, I was paid more than the WGA minimum and received profit sharing as well as rights to first refusal for rewrites. If I would have settled with the WGA, I would have been sucking wind and without credit.

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