Riskin Leaves Writers Guild Under Pressure


Victoria Riskin resigned as president of the Writer’s Guild of America’s Western division on Tuesday after an independent review found that she was ineligible to run for the presidency she won for a second time in September 2003.

Although she easily won reelection against Eric Hughes last fall, during the election Hughes suggested that Riskin was not eligible to run because she didn’t have enough writing credits over the past four years and for other violations. After the election, WGA West member Ronald Parker filed a complaint to that effect.

As a result, WGA West hired Stanford Law Professor William Gould IV, former head of the National Labor Relations Board, to conduct an investigation. Gould discovered that although Riskin’s writing contracts were valid under WGA rules, they did not fall under prescribed timelines. The report recommended that Riskin be declared ineligible and that the WGA presidency pass to Vice President Charles Holland.

With Riskin’s resignation, Holland becomes president effective immediately. Besides serving as vice president, Holland is co-vice chair of WGA West’s negotiating committee, and he was co-chair of that committee in 2001. He is a member of the California Bar and a graduate of Harvard Law School. As a TV writer, he has co-executive produced CBS’s JAG and Showtime’s Soul Food. Most recently, he claimed a writing credit on ESPN’s Playmakers.

Changes in the WGA’s leadership come at a critical time. The WGA is preparing to negotiate new contracts with Hollywood studios for its writers, with particularly sticky issues such as revenue sharing on DVD sales and health benefits. The current guild contract expires May 2.