Aaron Sorkin and Todd Phillips rip into the Writers Guild

At a roundtable interview for screenwriters held by The Hollywood Reporter, Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) and Todd Phillips (Due Date) both spent considerable time candidly detailing their complaints with the Writers Guild of America. The topic first came up after Phillips explained that, “if the Writers Guild was not such an obnoxious organization,” Robert Downey Jr. would have received a writing credit for Due Date. When prodded further on the issue, Phillips said, “We, as writers, have agents who should be negotiating our deal. If we want three cents more on our DVDs…let my agent figure that part out.”

Then Sorkin jumped in. “I am a union guy,” he presaged. “My grandfather was one of the founders of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union … But a union makes sense when people have more power as a group than they do as individuals. I have considerably more power as an individual than I do as a member of that group.” Sorkin also criticized the WGA’s practice of giving the first writer on a film “an irreducible story credit” regardless of whether that writer’s work appears in the finished film. “The Writers Guild is very happy to give the impression that a movie was written by five different people,” said Sorkin. “Which ultimately gives the impression that the director was the author of the movie, because they see one name at the end.”¬†Making things perhaps more awkward: WGA West president and The West Wing exec. producer John Wells (The Company Men) was seated across from Phillips, and¬†right next to Sorkin.

Comments (5 total) Add your comment
  • Scott or Steve

    No surprises here, I’m just glad that someone like Sorkin was able to say what he did. This line is key “But a union makes sense when people have more power as a group than they do as individuals. I have considerably more power as an individual than I do as a member of that group.” But the problem is that the union leaders only have power when the collective group comes together. And so they will never allow freelance writers to gain an edge over WGA approved writers.

    Is there a Song Writers Union in the music industry? Nope, but those artists make do. Will first timers get potentially screwed, and not make the money that more established writers make if they got rid of the union? Yes, but how would that be any different from today.

    • SM

      Songwriters get to keep their copyright, which gives them alot more control and future earning potential. A screenwriter’s work, even if it was initially a spec work, becomes a work-for-hire, and they lose all the benefits of copyright.

  • SM

    Sorkin has more power as an individual because he’s Aaron Sorkin. There are only a handful of writers who can make the demands he can.

  • Lily

    This is sickening. Now that Aaron and Todd have gotten to a certain level, they just want to forget about the union. They forget that the union protected their rights so they could reach this level of success.

    I’ve just lost all respect for them and don’t think I’ll bother with any more of their movies.

    • Curious Bystander

      Lily your an idiot, read the article again….

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