Back in the early days of the Hollywood Reporter Roundtable series, before social media really took off and any deviation from a publicist narrative led to a million aggregator headlines, people would often speak their minds on those panels. I remember co-moderating one such gathering of six screenwriters, in 2010, at the old Capital Grille in the Beverly Center.
It got heated. Todd Phillips, who had just come off a contentious writing credit dispute over Robert Downey Jr.’s contributions to Due Date, alternatively referred to the WGA as the “Whiners Guild” and an “obnoxious organization.” He then revealed he was part of the nine percent of the union who had voted against the 2007-08 strike. Why? “Autoworkers don’t have agents,” Phillips said to the group, which happened to include John Wells, who at the time was the president of the guild he was trashing. “We, as writers, we have agents who should be negotiating our deal, and if we want three cents more on our DVDs—or whatever the hell they were fighting for last year—let my agent figure that part out. Let him fight for it.”
Phillips wasn’t done. “I’m not worried about residual checks; I have an agent who makes deals for me, and that’s how it works,” he said. “If you’re a writer in demand, you get residual checks. I don’t believe the eighth writer on TV shows necessarily deserves to.”