This is reprinted from the LA TIMES. If you're interested in seeing John Ridley's original Op-Ed piece defending his position, it's here. If you'd like to see Craig Mazin's brief aside on Ridley's choice, go here.
Personally, I'd just like to add one thing that people never quite seem to grok about going fi-core -- it means you can't vote on any contract (or anything political within the Guild) ever again. It's permanent. If you are, for example, determined to see the WGA take whatever deal the DGA eventually comes out with, then if you've gone fi-core, you won't be able to vote.
Like many people, I get frustrated with just about any group I find myself in, sooner or later. The choices are to storm off, or to work to make it better from inside. Myself, I want to have a voice in making things better. Even if it's not easy to do. -- LK
John Ridley is wrong
A former Writers Guild president explains.
By Frank Pierson
January 14, 2008
When there were rumors of an A-list screenwriter going "financial core" from the Writers Guild of America, I was as surprised as John Ridley was to find out it was him. His resume is mostly pretty good television episodic writing, and he's made a good and well-deserved living doing that, as well as representing himself as the voice of Hollywood writers on the Huffington Post, NPR and in occasional Op-Ed articles here and there.
His assertion that I, as president of the Writers Guild, once gave him "a new orifice" because he complained of the lack of diversity in guild membership, is something I do not recall having done. The issues of diversity have always been a deep guild concern, but employment is not in the guild's control — whomever is employed by the studios becomes a member of the guild. The guild does not hire nor fire.
During and after my time as president, the guild organized a number of programs to give blacks and Latinos chances to do nonwriting services on shows, to at least get a foot in the door, and these programs were modestly effective. When I was a producer of "Have Gun — Will Travel" in the 1960s, at some risk and considerable trouble, I cast blacks, Latinos and blacklisted actors and writers, bringing them into the employable stream. Because I don't recall the phone call Ridley refers to, I can only reply in a general sense to Ridley's charge: If he had problems with how the guild was run, the best way for him to change it was to work from within. So far as I know, he has never worked on a guild committee. He was invited to run for office by the nominating committee of the guild in the interests of diversifying our board membership, but after a brief flirtation, Ridley refused the opportunity to educate and invigorate that body.
Now he has abandoned the community of writers and become in effect a spokesperson for the Assn. of Motion Picture and Television Producers. He can scab-write and (under current labor law) retain all the union benefits won at great sacrifice in three major strikes over 50 years. In doing so, he only prolongs the strike he deplores by doing the writing he couldn't get without it.
What Ridley does not mention is that he has a contract to write "Red Tails," a movie to be directed by George Lucas — low budget, by the way — this year. How convenient this seems. That he is now — having gone fi-core — free to write his first real movie during the strike.
And even so, the guild, with our continuing contributions, will take care of Ridley when he's sick, protect him from predatory rewrites, pay him his residuals and support him in his old age, and he doesn't even have to walk for it. (He is, by the way, walking by himself, the only screenwriter who has gone fi-core during the strike.)
There is a word for this: parasite.
Frank Pierson is a screenwriter whose credits include "Cool Hand Luke" and "Dog Day Afternoon."