WGA West President Meredith Stiehm was easily re-elected amid a lengthy writers’ strike

Meredith Stiehm was easily elected president of WGA West on Tuesday as the Writers Guild prepared to resume talks with the major studios amid a strike that has lasted more than 140 days.

Stiehm, creator and executive producer of the CBS series “Cold Case” and a writer and executive producer of the acclaimed Showtime drama “Homeland,” is president through 2021.

He ran against comedy writer Rich Tallarico, who ran on a platform of bringing more transparency to WGA Hollywood accounting practices and holding studios more accountable for withholding money from writers. Talarico’s writing credits include the sketch comedy series “Key and Peele” and “Mad TV.”

Stiehm won 89% of the votes cast in the election.

Stiehm was one of the leaders during the WGA’s dispute with talent agencies several years ago over packaging fees and ownership of production companies, which the union declared a conflict of interest. In 2019, the writers fired their agents in an effort to end the practice of agencies charging studios fees to package writers with other talent for movies and TV shows. The companies have agreed to significantly reduce their stake in affiliated manufacturing companies.

Stiehm acknowledged on his candidate’s website that the strike is a “serious, heavy thing” that he does not take lightly. But, he said, he’s learned through his experience fighting the agency that “things are impossible.”

“I believe in shooting high, speaking truth to power and holding the line when necessary,” Stiehm wrote on the site. “I am guided by justice and principle, and if it stands for a righteous cause, I am tireless.”

The WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers — which represents the major entertainment companies — will meet Wednesday to continue talks. The last time the two sides met on August 22 was acrimonious, and AMPTP publicly released a summary of its previous proposal. The move was seen by some writers and industry observers as an attempt to get around the WGA’s negotiators.

Key issues include minimum staffing in writers’ rooms, job protection against artificial intelligence, and streaming services releasing more audience data so writers can be more financially rewarded for successful programs.

Film and TV writers had been on strike since early May, and actors joined them in mid-July, bringing Hollywood script productions to a virtual halt.

Stiehm’s victory was widely expected. It could be difficult for challengers to defeat an incumbent at a time when the WGA had a wide margin of vote to authorize a strike and members look to the leadership to project strength in a high-stakes situation. Earlier this month, SAG-AFTRA members re-elected President Fran Drescher in a landslide.

“Especially when mass mobilization is needed, they tend to favor incumbents because people rally around the strike flag,” says Victor Tan Chen, associate professor of sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University and author of the book “Cut Loose.” : Unemployed and hopeless in an unfair economy.” They want to show a united front.

Incumbents in other top leadership positions, including WGA West Vice President Michelle Mulroney and Secretary-Treasurer Betsy Thomas, were re-elected, defeating challengers Isaac Gomez and Jeffrey Thompson.

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