Distinguished dramatist and television journalist Jon Robin Baitz is the first WGA member to publicly question the guild's directive that members fire their talent agents.
Baitz wrote a letter to the WGA leader in which he said his refusal to break ties with his representatives, CAA, praised Bryan Lourd, Joe Cohen and others for having abused him in bad times, including the strike of 2007-2008. He owed Cohen that he had led him into the lucrative career as a television writer and serial creator.
"He thought I could do it, could have my own show, produce convincing and workable television. He never stopped believing in me, so I never gave up. And I love him, "Baitz wrote.
Baitz, known for ABC's" Brothers and Sisters "and numerous plays, beats the WGA also because of his excessive rhetoric that the WGA has used in communicating with its members involvement in the agency The Guild's Franchise Negotiations with the Association of Talent Agents.
Baitz accused the guild of "negotiating its legitimate concerns in such a warlike, histrionic manner that I believe they lack the scope and perspective of membership interests betray. "
He explicitly demands a change of leadership style in the guild. "It is time for a mature, measurable and thoughtful philosophy that does not depend on the policy of division that we are all too used to," Baitz wrote. "It's time for adults who do not put the entire business in chaos and darkness. It's time for a leadership that sees the big changes in the business and acknowledges that authors are not surrounded by eternal enemies. "
Reps for WGA West did not respond promptly on Monday evening for comment.  Baitz is the exception to the overwhelming support the Guild has received among its members in its campaign to reform WGA member government representation, including a ban on agencies accepting packaging fees and engaging with writer customers on related production agreements. The Association of Talent Agents, which represents the majority of major talent agencies, has resisted the WGA overhaul attempt. On April 12, the WGA called on its members to sever ties with agents who refuse to adhere to the guild's new code of conduct.
Starting on Friday evening, a regular stream of celebrity showrunners and scriptwriters began signing solidarity with the guild. Many have also expressed their own regrets and appreciation for long-time and diligent representatives. There are a number of prominent showrunners who have pressured the guild to find a solution to the agency scramble, but so far only Baitz has been heard publicly with his critique.
A top agent continued to joke Monday that the social media contributions of writers who have expressed regret for having dismissed longtime dedicated agents sounded "very much like thoughts and prayers."
Here is Baitz's letter in full:
The Guild Leadership:
I am deeply saddened that I can not say that I do not insist may have fired my agents at CAA. This despite my firm belief in the mission and the achievements of the WGA.
First, I signed a contract with WIIP, a studio owned partly by CAA. If I released her, I would be a hypocrite, which I very much avoid in life, with admittedly mixed results. I'd like to point out that my deal with WIIP for Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win, which includes an on-air order of 8 Amazon episodes, is the best I've ever made. (They claim that these lucrative businesses are "loss leaders," based on that, I do not know what.) I have hired three WGA members at the producer level and make a writer's assistant, a female diversity employee, a staff writer at the WGA first order. But more importantly, I have to be honest about my relationship with my agents, which I do not find very unusual.
Bryan Lourd and I have been friends for over 35 years. As with many authors and their representatives, our friendship began long before we both succeeded. I met him when he started, and I was a young playwright from LA, represented by Michael Peretzian and George Lane, who were William Morris agents at the time. Both eventually became agents at CAA.
Brian Siberell of CAA became my agent in 2000, but we met in 1986, when George Lane introduced us. Brian worked at HBO. I was a poor playwright and he bought a script from me and it paid for my existence in NY for over a year. I think it was a deal of $ 27,000. I also do not think it's so unusual to have this deep personal story with his agent.
In 2002 Joe Cohen of the CAA asked me to think about working on television. Aaron Sorkin had asked me to write an episode of West Wing that I did and that was shot quite verbatim. Joe made this deal the WGA minimum for many times. I loved the work. In 2006, he signed a contract with me to write a pilot for ABC based on a pitch about an American family struggling with legacies, privileges, and their own history and ideological struggles. He saw me through Brothers & Sisters, and he was honest, honest, friendly and straight-forward, even as I created a situation that could only cause me to get fired from my own show. He had patience and understanding. He also taught me to think in television scripts. He thought I could do it, could have my own show, could make convincing and workable television. He never stopped believing in me, so I never gave up. And I love him.
ABC / Disney forced me out of my own show after the strike of the WGA in the 07/08 season in which I was trying to reach for the goals that we were being expressed. The guild shrugged and I was alone, but Joe Cohen and Bryan Lourd stayed with me and Brian Siberell made sure I could work again as soon as I could handle the trauma. They all believed in me. As far as I know, I was the only WGA member with a show ON THE AIR, which was forced by a so-called "Act of God" clause.
I have supported the Guild as a matter of conscience since I became a member over 30 years ago. But something happened. I observe people whom I would like to characterize as robbers and criminals. Yes, there are real changes to the agencies and packaging and affiliates, but the idea that these people are just greedy and greedy exploiters is lacking in nuance or context, and does not seem to take into account the huge changes in the media landscape and the constant growing capacity of studios and streaming services. By turning our agents into villains and insisting on a tone of intransigence, you have alienated essential allies, as calm and patience may actually have achieved results way so edgy, so histrionic, so little in scope and perspective that you in my opinion after betraying the interests of the membership. They've implemented a scorched earth policy that ignores the significant and, in my case, life-changing investments agents have invested in our careers – the endless hours, the conversations, the holding hands, and especially the care and protection of younger, emerging voices.
The leadership eagerly and joyfully went to war, and anyone who reads this knows that this is true. There was a bloodlust at work. David Simon was treated like a rock star when he spied a scenario in which he could cut agents' hoops. The membership was tickled. Own that. The writers cheered him and wanted to overthrow the evil Big Three. No perspective was allowed. A consideration of the changing dynamics of the entertainment industry was not allowed. Our agents are now our enemies.
I think it's time for a new kind of leadership to take the lead at WGA. It is time for a mature, modest, and thoughtful philosophy that does not depend on the policy of division that we are all too familiar with. It's time for adults who do not put the entire business in chaos and darkness. It's time for a leadership that sees the big changes in the business and acknowledges that writers are not surrounded by eternal enemies.
It's time to reject the white hot anger, the desire to punish, the urge to tear down existing structures simply in the name of fairness. It's time for the WGA to learn that adults come to the table to find solutions, and not to find a reason to fight.
I am a union man, but I do not refuse my allegiance Friends I can not be the person you want. I can not give up relationships with my agents because I give up people I love, people who have helped me create a life by going back and forth between two forms that I know and love.
The WGA is a valuable, vital and proud union. The benefits that writers have gained over the years have made it possible to offer unprecedented pensions and medical care, and to make business arrangements, knowing that the guild is there to protect and protect its members support. And even in this battle, the guild has worthy goals – I do not dispute that. But in all the decades of combat studios and networks, in all real-life battles, something has worked and influenced your point of view and viewpoint in this conflict with the ATA.
Let us not share the present cruelty and coarseness of the world. The ATA listens – you have them at the table. Please find a way forward that means no disruption and broken relationships. Remember that agents are people and have emotions, families, parents and sensitivities, just like us. I have seen too many unintended consequences in history and in life come true, and I am afraid that these will have tragic consequences.
With sorrow and respect
Jon Robin Baitz