The Latest News from the WGA about…You Know

by Larry Brody

This just in…as in yesterday evening’s email box. And, I think, Very Important:

June 25, 2019
Dear Members,

We wanted to update you on a few things:

Last week we announced the WGA will no longer seek an agreement with the Association of Talent Agents, but instead will deal with individual agencies. Contact with each of the nine remaining unsigned agencies is underway, including the offer to meet to discuss a new proposal.

Yesterday the WGA contacted the Securities and Exchange Commission and Endeavor’s IPO underwriters to inform them of Endeavor’s failure to properly disclose the risk presented by the agency’s conflicted practices. The company’s filing did not disclose the number of writers who had terminated representation with the agency, which is currently 1,400 writers, accounting for approximately 23% of all Endeavor clients. The magnitude of the client loss is material to the risk of investing in Endeavor.
Also yesterday, WME filed suit accusing the Guilds (East and West) of engaging in an illegal boycott. We planned for this. A countersuit is a typical response to a lawsuit and something we anticipated one or more agencies might do after the WGA implemented the Code of Conduct, writers terminated agents, and the conflict of interest lawsuit was filed.

A rumor attributed to agency sources claims the WGA is “using pension funds to pay for the WME lawsuit.” This is false. Under federal law – Taft Hartley – all collectively-bargained union pension funds are under the joint control of labor and management trustees. Using such funds for any purpose other than to invest and pay member pensions would be a federal felony under ERISA.

The WGA has sufficient funds to deal with legal costs of filing and defending these lawsuits. The WGAW’s finances are transparent: the 2018 Annual Financial Report will be mailed to members this Friday the 28th of June. It shows how solid our financial position is.

Watch your inboxes this week for a link to a member survey about the agency campaign.

We anticipate scheduling general member meetings in July. You will receive the meeting invitation after the July 4th holiday weekend.

In the meantime, Los Angeles-area members are invited to come to one of the two currently scheduled Wednesday Member Get-Togethers at the Guild office. Board and Negotiating Committee members will be available to informally answer questions, and you’ll have a chance to network with other members as well.

RSVP at this link to attend a WGA Member Get-Together

Wednesday, June 26 7-9 p.m.
Wednesday, July 10 7-9 p.m.

In Solidarity,

WGA-Agency Agreement Negotiating Committee

Chris Keyser, Co-Chair
David Shore, Co-Chair
Meredith Stiehm, Co-Chair
Lucy Alibar
John August
Angelina Burnett
Zoanne Clack
Kate Erickson
Jonathan Fernandez
Travon Free
Ashley Gable
Deric A. Hughes
Chip Johannessen
Michele Mulroney
Michael Schur
Tracey Scott Wilson
Betsy Thomas
Patric M. Verrone
Nicole Yorkin
David A. Goodman, President WGAW, ex-officio
Marjorie David, Vice President WGAW, ex-officio
Aaron Mendelsohn, Secretary-Treasurer WGAW, ex-officio
Beau Willimon, President WGAE, ex-officio
Jeremy Pikser, Vice President WGAE, ex-officio
Bob Schneider, Secretary-Treasurer WGAE, ex-officio

Writers Guild of America West
7000 West Third Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048
Phone (323) 951-4000 • Fax (323) 782-4800 •


Writing advice that sucks

Bad advice for writers is everywhere, but this article by Jason Hellerman sums it up – or should we say “pins it down?” – perfectly.

5 Instances of Terrible Writing Advice [w/Lessons from Each]
by Jason Hellerman

Tell me if this rings a bell, you’re attending a screenwriting seminar, listening to a lecture, or getting notes from someone, and they lean in and tell you they have a piece of advice. After hearing it, you shake your head. You feel a little worse off than you started, and you’re not sure what to do next.

Terrible writing advice is all around us. Bad writing advice comes from many sources. We hear it in blogs, podcasts, and all over Social Media.

Today I want to go over the 5 biggest pieces of terrible screenwriting advice I’ve heard, debunk each of them, and give you the proper lessons to take away from each of them.

Ready? Let’s go…

Terrible Writing Advice Tip #1: Write What You Know

I know I have told this to someone. So right off the bat, let’s start with the advice I am guilty of handing out. When I tell someone I think they should “write what they know” chances are I’m searching for a personal connection that I just don’t find in their pages.

Akin to that, they might have an under-researched idea that makes reading their pages a slog or hard. When I was an assistant I got to work closely with Michael Werwie, who wrote Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile.

Michael was so much fun to learn from because he epitomized the best part of “write what you know” – a screenwriter who is confident and knowledgeable about the subject she’s tackled. Michael was not a serial killer (I hope) but he was an expert on Ted Bundy. So he was able to write Ted with authenticity and breathe new life into a case most Americans thought they knew and understood.

When we gave Michael story notes, he was able to hear them and craft them in a way that aligned with the facts….

Read it all at

Last Week in Cord Cutting

More cord cutting news for all you crazy, zany refugees from the tyranny of satellite and cable TV, from CordCuttersNews. The central issues this week are PlayStation’s deal-making problems, AT&T’s disenchantment with Direct TV, & More.

You can find Cord Cutters at:


Herbie J Pilato’s New TV Show Starts Streaming July 1!

by TVWriter™ Press Service

Herbie J Pilato has always loved television.

While growing up in Rochester, New York in the 1960s, his favorite TV series included Star Trek, Petticoat Junction, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Kung Fu, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Bewitched, just to name a few. “Those shows inspired me,” he says today. “And they inspired a lot of people. It was a traumatic, yet remarkable time.”

Indeed. The 1960s were littered with war, racial turmoil, political assassinations, all of which somehow coexisted with “flower power,” “free love,” and the sexual revolution.

In the midst of it all was a little boy Herbie J (no period after the “J,” long story) who years later would mature into a writing machine that would chronicle it all, first with a series of heralded TV companion books, articles, and blogs which subsequently bled into his work as a consultant and producer on several classic TV documentaries. In 2010, he then founded the Classic TV Preservation Society, a formal 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the positive social influence of classic television.

And now, after more than five decades of loving, living, and breathing classic TV, Herbie J hosts Then Again with Herbie J Pilato, a new classic TV talk show that Shout Factory TV begins streaming July 1st on Amazon Prime, among other media platforms. Then Again will focus on the shows and stars that impacted and influenced Herbie J in the most uplifting way. “To be inspired by Mayberry, RFD and Wonder Woman as a child,” he says, “…and then be able to share that affection with both the people who were involved with such shows, and with the viewers at home who loved the shows as much as I did, is well…just simply a wonderful thing.”

Then Again is executive-produced by Council Tree Productions, headed by Steven Hillard and Joel Eisenberg (The Chronicles of Ara), who along with producer and wife Lorie Girsh Eisenberg, discovered Herbie J in 2015, when he hosted his Throwback Thursdays live-events at the Barnes & Noble in Burbank. “My wife and I visited Herbie at one of his events and we were immediately sold. ‘Why isn’t anyone honoring classic TV stars like this on a regular basis?’ we asked. The answer turned into our show.”

Herbie J is quick to clarify, “Then Again would never have happened had it not been for Joel and Lorie. They believed in me and my work as much as I did, if not more. When I was doing the live-events in Burbank, I wasn’t thinking of it all becoming a TV show. I was just happy with talking to people like Dawn Wells [Gilligan’s Island] and Lydia Cornell [Too Close For Comfort], and I felt like, ‘Ok, this is a good thing. It doesn’t get much better than this.’”

But it did get better, and was it all because Herbie J pursued his dreams. “I just followed my heart,” he says. “I loved classic TV, and then I wrote about what I loved. As a writer, that’s the ideal scenario. And that it all somehow materialized into hosting my own talk show, which actually has become more than a dream come true, especially because many of the shows that I grew up watching were talk shows hosted by Merv Griffin, Dinah Shore, Mike Douglas, while certainly, too, The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson had a great influence on me. The fact that I would eventually work on The Tonight Show as an NBC Page seemed to possibly foreshadow my hosting Then Again.”

“I mean,” he continues, “…who knows how things work out, right? Who really, really knows what the plan is in the big-picture scheme of things? I’ve just always tried to do the best work I can, and bring and share a few smiles along with the way. Right now, I’m just grateful for the amazing opportunity that Shout Factory TV has presented me with. I am nothing less than thrilled, and I want only to do the best job I can.”

Considering the line-up of stars for Then Again with Herbie J Pilato, the pathway for its success is cleared. Future episodes will feature Marion Ross (Happy Days) and Cindy Williams (Laverne & Shirley), for a special tribute to producer/writer/director Garry Marshal, brothers Barry Livingston and Stanley Livingston (My Three Sons), Kathryn Leigh Scott, Lara Parker, and David Selby (the iconic stars of Dark Shadows), Burt Ward (Batman), Robert Conrad (The Wild Wild West), and Ed Asner (The Mary Tyler Moore Show), the latter of whom Herbie J also interviewed for his new book, Mary: The Mary Tyler Moore Story (recently published by Jacobs Brown Press).

Either way, we here at couldn’t be more proud that one of our spawn has spun his own TV show. For us, it doesn’t get much better than that!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Herbie J Pilato has been part of TVWriter™ for 20 years and is Contributing Editor Emeritus. Learn more about Mr. Pilato his very self  HERE.

Madman, Architect, Carpenter, Judge: Roles and the Writing Process

Time now for a solidly thoughtful and genuinely helpful article about something we all need help with from time to time – how to overcome all the usual articles and not only start writing something you love but keep going all the way to the finish.

Oh, and it’s also solidly and so darn civilly written that alone has made us smile since we first saw it. Our thanks to Betty Flowers, former Director of the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, and to Michelle Gordon, who first brought this to our attention.

by Betty S. Flowers

“What’s the hardest part of writing?” I ask on the first day of class.

“Getting started,” someone offers, groaning.

“No, it’s not getting started,” a voice in the back of the room corrects. “It’s keeping on once you do get started. I can always write a sentence or two-but then I get stuck.”

“Why?” I ask.

“I don’t know. I am writing along, and all of a sudden I realize how awful it is, and I tear it up. Then I start over again, and after two sentences, the same thing happens.”

“Let me suggest something which might help,” I say. Turning to the board, I write four words: “madman,” “architect,” “carpenter,” “judge.”

Then I explain:

“What happens when you get stuck is that two competing energies are locked horn to horn, pushing against each other. One is the energy of what I’ll call your ‘madman.’ He is full of ideas, writes crazily and perhaps rather sloppily, gets carried away by enthusiasm or anger, and if really let loose, could turn out ten pages an hour.

“The second is a kind of critical energy-what I’ll call the ‘judge.’ He’s been educated and knows a sentence fragment when he sees one. He peers over your shoulder and says, ‘That’s trash!’ with such authority that the madman loses his crazy confidence and shrivels up. You know the judge is right-after all, he speaks with the voice of your most imperious English teacher. But for all his sharpness of eye, he can’t create anything.

“So you’re stuck. Every time your madman starts to write, your judge pounces on him….

Read it all at