This has not been a great couple of years for the Writers Guild of America. First, president Victoria Riskin created an embarrassing scandal when it was revealed she wasn’t actually an active member and, therefore, unqualified to serve. She resigned and Charles Holland took her place — until it was revealed by the LA Times that claims he made about his college football accomplishments and military service were at best exaggerated and at worst complete fabrications. He resigned, too.
After those two scandals, and with the union’s image in tatters, the WGA instigated a very public battle with their own members by charging that the WGAe hadn’t paid their fair share of dues. While the WGA may have been right, technically and legally, in their dispute with WGAe, it was a public relations disaster that underscored the image of a Guild in utter disarray.
And so it goes today. Apparently, the WGA board has learned nothing from the events of the past couple of years. Variety reports that the WGA is giving Riskin the prestigious Valentine Davies Award for her contributions to writers and the community at large.
The action — taken several weeks ago with board members pledged to
confidentiality — undoubtedly will reopen what had been an embarrassing chapter
for the WGA West.
No kidding. What were they thinking? Or, more accurately, were they even thinking at all? I don’t argue that Riskin may deserve the honor…I’m sure that she is. But to give it to her now, so soon after she resigned in disgrace and embarrassed her Guild, is such a blatantly wrong-headed decision that I can’t believe the Board seriously considered it…much less approved it.
This decision shows that the board suffers from a disturbing and rather astonishing case of political ineptitude. Can they be this unaware of how their reactions are perceived…or the image of the Guild right now among its members and the industry as a whole? Either they are dumb or they are clueless. Neither choice speaks very well of our elected leadership.