THE FOLLOWING MOTIONS WERE FILED AT THE LOS ANGELES SUPERIOR COURT ON APRIL 10, 2014:
2757 Overland Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90064
SUPERIOR COURT OF CALIFORNIA
COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES
IN PRO PER
WILLIAM RICHERT, an individual, PEARL RETCHIN, an individual, and on behalf of those similarly situated,
WRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA WEST, INCL. FIDUCIARYS et.al.,
Case No.: BC339972, related cases BC3521; and Osmond V. Screen Actor’s Guild, Inc, LASC Case No.: BC377780
HONORABLE JOHN SHEPARD WILEY JR.
PLAINTIFF NOTICE OF MOTIONS 1) MOTION TO SUBSITUTE ADEQUATE ATTORNEY FOR NEVILLE JOHNSON; 2.) MOTION FOR COURT REVIEW/APPROVAL OF WGA GIFT OF $1 MILLION TO ACTOR’S FUND; 3.)MOTION TO AUDIT PLAINTIFF’S ROYALTIES PER SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT AND: 4.) MOTION TO REJOIN SAG AND DGA RELATED CASES IN EQUAL FAIRNESS TO SAG ACTORS AND NON-UNION DIRECTORS; MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN SUPPORT THEREOF INCL. EXHIBITS
DEPT: CCW 311
LEAD PLAINTIFF WILLIAM RICHERT, ON BEHALF OF HIS CLASS, RESPECTFULLY MAKES THE FOLLOWING MOTIONS TO THE HONORABLE JOHN SHEPARD WILEY JR.:
1.) MOTION TO REPLACE U.S. WRITERS’ CLASS ATTORNEY. According to the civil class-action rules (23), the class must have lawyer. Judge Wiley recognized this in his reply to Mr. Johnson’s courtroom assertion on August 22, 2012:
FROM COURT TRANSCRIPT AUGUST 2012:
MR. JOHNSON: OKAY. Then other counsel may come in, I take it, and they can enforce. You don’t have a problem with that, right?
THE COURT: I’ll rule on an issue when it’s presented to me.
…MR. JOHNSON: Okay. Then I am going to be making a motion that this court appoint counsel to come in and represent the class henceforth, which will not be me, but needs to advise you of problems and issues as they arise...
THE COURT: I will be happy to give you a hearing date for that motion.
But no motion was forthcoming from Mr. Johnson in response to the Judge Wiley’s offer, either that day when Mr. Johnson quickly changed the subject, nor in the many months since that hearing. I am making that crucial motion today on behalf of my class.
Based on a 2014 threshold settlement deadline, with knowledge of new infractions and contempt for the settlement by the non-compliant defendant WGA, I ask the court to accept Mr. Johnson’s resignation ipso facto and to appoint the needed new counsel ASAP. (see attached dismissal notice to Neville Johnson.)
Moreover, a new lawyer can advise the court with notice that the case is now “ripe” for enforcement based on the expiration of the WGA’s 3-year contract “grace” period for “full payment” to America’s film and television and book authors. – Especially the writers who belong to no union, have not been adequately represented, but are now being made subject to WGA-AFL-CIO “jurisdiction” as a result of my settlement. There is presently no person at all in court to represent U.S. freelance screenwriters and authors but me. -- But there will be others.
If it pleases the court, I will continue in my dual role as plaintiff/pro se petitioner, acting as “citizens attorney general,” while awaiting the Your Honor’s approval and the hire of a new lawyer.
2.) MOTION FOR “FULL ACCOUNTING” OF WRITER ROYALTIES “SINCE INCEPTION” as required by settlement after the “effective date.”
The March, 2014 foreign levy copyright check made out to me for $1,384.46 the union A NIGHT IN THE LIFE OF JIMMY REARDON and the not-union THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK – offers the first actual/actionable evidence that the union took royalties from non-union authors for a period over twenty years. According to the German Foreign Levy contract signed by the unions and studios (attached), the true amount on this 2014 check should be around $12,600, and I'm a small earner in Hollywood. The check is also missing royalties from the years 1999-2011.
Showing the WGA has been taking money from a non-union film, the WGA check fails to include any explanation for decades of other, perhaps much larger, missing royalties for movies like THE HAPPY HOOKER and WINTER KILLS and LAW and DISORDER and A NIGHT IN THE LIFE OF JIMMY REARDON along with THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK. It does not indicate whether any money was given to Universal, Disney, Paramount, Sony, Columbia, Fox, United Artists or Warner Brothers, though we know that 92.5% of it was. (Signed WGA/Studio "Agreement" exhibit attached)
As told to me by Judge West and Judge Highberger and court moderator Paul Kiesel, my royalty checks as Lead Plaintiff represent those for all class members, showing what we got -- or did not get. THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK royalties are as unaccounted for today as they were when the lawsuit was filed in 2005, with these post-settlement checks raising more questions than answers. IRON MASK is due royalties from all three unions, WGA, SAG and DGA – as well as non-unions. -- Collecting money intended for others does not make any institution a collection society, except maybe in the characters in the SOPRANOS, written by class member David Saul.
This year the WGA claims to have collected a total of $157 million "since inception" for writers in foreign levies. The true amount is closer to $1.570 BILLION received for U.S. writers since 1992, and that number does not includes the decades earlier The WGA says it has now accounted for all this money, but refuses to say where the other 92.5 per cent went. The lawsuit provides an avenue for discovery of that.
3.) MOTION FOR COURT APPROVAL TO REOPEN, REVIEW IN COURT THE “CY PRES” DONATION OF ONE MILLION DOLLARS TO THE ACTORS’ FUND, WITH HEARING TO DETERMINE HOW THE ‘CY PRES FUND’ WAS CREATED AND HOW THE ESTIMATED 1 MILLION WAS ARRIVED AT.
The donation of U.S. writer’s “undeliverable funds” in the amount of 1 million dollars was unlawfully made by to the Actor’s Fund without court knowledge, approval or jurisdiction, as mandated by the settlement.
Judge West was very clear he wanted to see the “undeliverable” funds before they were given to any charity, or before they were given to the State of California, where Judge West thought they belonged. When the case was transferred to Judge Wiley, both sides of lawyers withheld -- and therefore obfuscated – crucial information about the Court’s right to review any donation or escheat, and made impossible any desire by the Court to examine the donation in view of vastly conflicting accountings of the amount in question. (see Amended Settlement, and decl. by William Richert)
4.) MOTION FOR RE-JOINING OF DGA, SAG AND WGA CASES so that the non-WGA settlements grant the members of the Actors and Directors’ unions the same rights to follow their money as were given to the writers under the RICHERT VS. WGA settlement.
In 2005 The WGA lawyers told the Federal court that they control the copyrights of U.S. writers in the same way that safety rules for retail clerks who were unionized were extended to non-union retail clerks. American writers respect and frequent retail clerks, and ask for the same sharing of rights between all unions formerly connected to the BC339972 WGA lawsuit to protect all those involved in these lawsuits equally.
Under Section 301 Unions legally extend their health and safety awards to include the non-union general population when health or other rights are involved, and here are two unions – DGA and SAG --which have “settled” the trademarks of actors names and performances as belonging to their lawyers and SAG-DGA Executive Directors first, members or non-union-members come second. We believe the rights granted to writers uniquely in the RICHERT VS. WGAw settlement should be extended to those union and non-union DGA and SAG members whose settlements were “deficient” according to both Judge Wiley and Neville Johnson and the consultants involved.
Flowing into the digital epoch, we understand that millions of artists will soon be involved in these issues, as millions post internet videos each day, many of which the unions claim fall under their jurisdiction.
The settlements with the DGA and SAG in particular are abhorrent to the artists who understand the loss of rights under the disingenuous deals made by Neville Johnson and Paul Kiesel on their behalf. Unlike the WGA lawsuit, the DGA and SAG were settled “with prejudice,” concrete evidence of the absolute disregard shown by the contingency lawyers to their clients. Non-union Actors and directors should not suffer under a “deficient” mandate when unions claim rights to protect their members under civil rule 301.
If SAG and the DGA will not protect those thousands indentured by bad settlements made by profiteering lawyers, we, the writers’ class plaintiffs’ in the WGA case, plead that these cases return to their lawful genesis – all have the same lawyers – and we ask that whoever continues the post-settlement enforcement return to the original 2005 William Richert claim for justice for all. Neville Johnson says 50 million a year goes through the DGA for non-union members – which means that really half a billion sent was sent for them.
200 Million was the figure Mr. Johnson and Mr. Segall agreed in court was due to WGA members and non-members. This does not include the 92.5% to the Studios.
DECLARATION OF WILLIAM RICHERT: POINTS, FACTS AND OBSERVATIONS 2005-2014:
On August 22, 2012, after challenging Judge Wiley over his demand for additional fees the lawyer for the three major Hollywood "labor" unions, -- Neville Johnson -- walked off from the class action cases he filed and hasn’t returned. It is the duty of the Lead Plaintiff to replace him, and we respectfully ask the court to ensure that the rights of the court-certified litigant are protected post-settlement.
This class action is especially important to the film world as it involves thousands of non-union independent screenwriters who often devote their lives to a single film, and should not see their royalties taken by unions or studios, as has been done for decades without any accounting.
Concerning my own years since 2005 as both witness and plaintiff representing non-union writers: I can verifiably state that almost every word presented to the Honorable Judges Morrow, Carl J. West, William Highberger, and now yourself, Hon. Judge John Wiley Jr. – has been has been false, as in fellow class member Mary McCarthy’s (deceased) observation about fellow class member Lillian Hellman (deceased), who founded the Writers Guild of America: “every word she says is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘but.’”
It is said that the Devil’s biggest fraud is his ability to convince the gullible that he doesn’t exist, or that his counsel is in the best interest of the hopeful, i.e. “Usual Suspects” written by class member Christopher McQuarrie.
Starting September, 2005, I’ve been the class writer and witness to devilish deeds and intentions in three courts, and I know the details. 2005 was the year the WGA Board voted to place all “cy pres” or undeliverable funds into the treasury. No Judge was ever told this, even though the courts had full jurisdiction over the “cy pres” money, which Tony Segall gave in 2012 to the Actor’s Fund, never acknowledging a deception that no doubt included other unaccounted-for funds.
One example of a gang of lawyers’ devious and subtle fabrication was presented in 2012 to the court of Judge Wiley by Tony Segall, Daniel Schecter and my class lawyers, Neville Johnson and Paul Kiesl with Studio Exec. – Labor Counsel Robert Hadl uber-lawyering to them all from the visitor’s gallery.
Uncorrected by any of the informed lawyers present in the room, Neville Johnson asserted that that the entire lawsuit is about Hollywood’s “industry governance” as if it were merely an insider fraternal dispute about supervision of a standard process.
NEVILLE JOHNSON: “THIS LAWSUIT CHALLENGED THE ADEQUACY OF WGA’S COLLECTION, PROCESSING AND DISTRIBUTION OF FOREIGN LEVIES TO WRITERS, INCLUDING WGA MEMBERS AS WELL AS NON-MEMBERS.”
Actually, what RICHERT VS. WGA is really about is theft of copyright; theft of royalties; an ongoing scheme outside any kind of writer-approved union/studio deal lasting a quarter century and counting; a pernicious union/studio criminal piracy enterprise involving billions of dollars.
Tony Segall, Patric Verrone, David Young, Carl Gottlieb et. al, denied any wrongdoing or prior knowledge, of course, along with the Board of Directors at the WGA, but this is the shield an expensive settlement can provide, offering the defendants a temporary stay from the inevitable march of justice.
Although Neville Johnson left the courtroom in a huff, as if he were the loser, that was part of the plan: to the class members, it appears the courts had washed its hands of the lawsuits, creating a kind of writers’ Pontius Pilot of the Judge.
And while Dan and Tony gave each other “high fives” exiting the court, they were not excluding Neville in their crony exultation; after all, they paid him 1.6 million for four hours of depositions, along with his downtown parking fees.
To those labor union attorneys who were over the moon with their success, the non-union freelance writers nationwide say "not so fast" -- there are still “victories” in the settlement, as Judge Wiley said, and they need to be taken -- especially for non-union writers.
While the Richert VS. WGA settlement may have given up the distribution of 7 and 1/2 % of U.S. foreign royalties, along with U.S. copyright protections, to the aegis of WGA, I signed the settlement along with objector Eric Hughes specifically for a “full payout” and in return for a clause allowing a collateral lawsuit for the identification and location of the rest of the money, thus leading to action to reclaim the 92% of those royalties hitherto given by the union to the studios in secret, plus interest.
That studio grab exceeds one billion dollars. Nobody knows how much belongs to non union authors and screenwriters.
The settlement I signed also binds 20 thousand WGA union writers to a deal hardly any ever read or knew about.
Before any member got the settlement offer, official messages from the WGA to its membership described the settlement as “inaccurate” and the settlement itself that was made out to be “court approved,” as sent to the members to imply it was good and anyhow already irreversible, favoring the union. [The WGA also said I was a member EMERITUS IN ARREARS, a made-up category – until after settlement was signed, when they suddenly declared I was a “non-member” -- all false and misleading. Even today, very few union members know that they only get 7.5% of their full due. And I’ll bet almost none of the majority non-union screenwriters have any notion at all of money taken from them. For a long time I felt that the WGA membership had behaved in a cowardly manner, with virtually none offering to help in the case, THEIR case; then I read what the union leadership sent out to the membership, and saw they were not cowards at all, but victims.]
My recent $1,387.46 WGA royalty check – signed by Carl Gottlieb -- should have been the full $12,000 that the collection societies originally sent in my name, for example (as I calculate the total including the other 92.5% the WGA gave to the studios.) This amount comes nowhere near what is owed for other films that were collected for me over the years since THE HAPPY HOOKER (non WGA.)
More commercially successful writers are owed much more.
The WILLIAM RICHERT VERSUS THE WRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA settlement was not designed to inexplicably and secretly give 92% of writers’ royalties to the studios (or 85 or even 50 percent as the union presently claims) -- in perpetuity, or “forever” -- which is what happened to my royalties for ‘THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK” along with my other movies [though not ‘forever’ we vow.]
Considering the stakes of copyright and performance rights extinguished/controlled by a small group of insiders, involving billions, it is amazing to me that so little has been written in the LA press about this matter. But then I have heard that the WGA intimidates those who do write about it.
The major Hollywood studios have no rights whatsoever to any claim of royalties generated by private copyrighted property like THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK, which was defiantly non-WGA and non-DGA and certainly not done under any “work for hire” studio “pre-nuptials” or CBA/MBA union regulations.
THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK, via this lawsuit, becomes an index of connected information on the unions, studios and collecting societies themselves.
Taking royalties from this privately financed independent film is the same kind of piracy that the studios and unions decry; here it’s them doing it first. I used my money and the money of my friends to produce this movie, which took almost a decade to make and distribute, and the first real money to be returned to us -- however small – shall not be taken by others without accounting for it
FRAUD AT INCEPTION
While this year, in 2014, the WGA continues to misrepresent the facts of the lawsuit, even excluding Mexico from its list of collecting countries, while continue defame the lead plaintiff, WGA lawyer Emma Leheny outright lied at the outset to Judge Morrow in the Federal court in 2007, from whence the falsehoods flowed into the other courts. She soon mysteriously disappeared from the lawsuit -- .
FROM U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE MORROW TRANSCRIPT FEBRUARY 5, 2007:
THE COURT: But these plaintiffs aren’t members of these labor unions, are they?
MS. LEHENY: That’s incorrect. it is our position that Mr. Richert, the lead plaintiff in the Writers Guild case, is and was a member of the writers Guild. I would also ask that attention be redirected to what we believe is the correct analysis, whether work is produced pursuant to a Collective Bargaining Agreement, not whether an individual voluntarily chooses to be a dues paying member of a union. In other words, when I sign on to write a film and 14 it is under the writers Guild agreement –
THE COURT: You know, let me just interrupt you here…as the court understands the allegations of the complaint, the allegations of the complaint are that these two individuals are not members of the two unions… But they are not performing this work pursuant to a Collective Bargaining Agreement. They have a right that arose under foreign law based on work they did as nonunion members.
So how does that implicate the Collective Bargaining Agreement, or not the Collective Bargaining Agreement, but this voluntary settlement effectively that the Guild's entered into with the companies? It's like you sort of arrogated to yourself the right and the power to make deals on behalf of these plaintiffs who say that they are not members of your unions.
MS. LEHENY: Okay. It is a fact that Mr. Richert's films that were at issue here were produced under the Writers Guild contract.
The above is totally FALSE, and is a blatant deceit to the Judge and she knows it and all the lawyers appearing in front of the Judge know it, too. I was not told of the Federal Court hearing or invited to attend, otherwise I would have protested that day as I did later on.
WGA CFO Don Gor continued the deception both in his deposition and in his court declaration: "William Richert is now and has always been during the course of this lawsuit a member of the WGA."
AFTER THE SETTLEMENT, THE WGA RETRACTS THE RUSE IT USED TO CONTROL ITS MEMBERSHIP:
“The lawsuit was filed in 2005 by a non-member.” States www.wga.org. 2014-- CHRIS HEYSER.
Ms. Leheny lied in 2007 in front of the court and in front of the complicit lawyers about my membership and other issues. In possession of my files, she knew that only a few of my films were produced under the WGA contract, and none originated under a studio contract. The majority of my negatives are private property, and copyrighted. Ms. Leheny also told the court I was a MEMBER “EMERITUS IN ARREARS,” a name I rather puckishly enjoy, but which is as misleading since there is no such category and WGA expert Eric Hughes has the documents to prove it. (Besides, Emeritus members do not pay dues). These statements were as bogus as all else the lawyers from both sides have told the courts all these years. Ms. Leheny (who now works for the teachers’ union) goes on to state:
MS. LEHENY: Here the plaintiff’s claims are squarely addressed by the foreign levy agreement, which is the applicable labor contract.
Ms. Leheny refers to a “labor contract” which is clearly and definitively NOT a factual description of the secret foreign levy “agreement” which says the exact opposite – declaring that the entire agreement is “Outside Collective Bargaining.” The 1990 “Secret Agreement” shows that is not true.
Then, in that same initial hearing, Dan Schecter chimes in with a set of lies of his own:
MR. SCHECTER: These unions over a course of years at great expense negotiated with management, negotiated with the foreign jurisdictions that were collecting the moneys and now they hold money as a consequence of that, both for the membership and non-members. So to assess whether they acted wrongfully, you need to look at Section 3 of the foreign levy agreement.
Actually, the Judge needed to look at section “6”, of the agreement, not “3.” Mr. Schecter was counting on a Federal Judge being too busy to know all the provisions of a “unique” small typeface 1990 secret deal.
MR. SCHECTER: It is only through the Guild’s exercise of the collective bargaining authority and the collective bargaining role that they go out and they make claims on behalf of the author’s share. Wha? -- Nonsense, this is, and it has been perpetuated as the “gravitas” of this case through 3 judges and nine years of litigation; all under the Cromwellian Thumb of a former lawyer for Lew Wasserman, Robert Hadl.
MR. SHECTER: It gets pretty thorny. Not even the plaintiffs submit that the first day that a dollar comes in it has to be paid out. There’s some period of time that’s its reasonable for any entity that reviews millions of dollars to figure out who it’s for.
17 YEARS of “figuring out” at the time of this hearing? Now it’s been 24 years, and there is still no accounting of any non-member’s checks at any of these unions except the checks I have got.
Boy oh boy, this may not belong in a legal motion, but here is B.S. at its most stench-full – and I have a catalogue of this artful dodger’s whoppers dropped in three different courts – again, Mr. Schecter knows that it’s actually 3 different unions taking foreign levies , not two – since Mr. Schechter has already been representing SAG’s foreign levies – and he also knows that there is no “collective bargaining” in this case, especially for non-union writers who do not “bargain” their copyrights away without knowing it, and whose copyrights cannot be legally taken that way, either.
[It is bizarre also to read testimony about “workplace rules” and “rates of pay” for writers like me; nothing like these conditions have ever applied to me or my peers.]
WHAT THE JUDGE COULD NOT KNOW
No lawyer in the courtroom told Judge Wiley the SAG contract had expired, or that the “cy pres” was meant to be given by the Judge and Court; not the lawyers involved in the case; preposterously, nobody talked about the WGA Board giving the WGA treasurer control of foreign levies "cy press" way back in 2005. ...Was that because of my lawsuit?
Neville Johnson to Judge Wiley, May 16, 2012: “I will say that we are pleased to say that the WGA has been cooperating with our consultants and they are in the process of finalizing a press release and getting certain moneys paid out to a charity in accordance with the terms of the settlement…
Please note that Mr. Johnson makes no mention of “cy pres” at this hearing, or the next hearing. But note also that the WGA wrote a press release and made a big show of giving 1 million to the actor’s fund that should have been done by the court, not the lawyers:
From Amended Settlement, Judge West, 2011: “In addition to the provisions in paragraph 7(d) of the Amended Settlement Agreement relating to the payment of certain un- distributable funds attributable to non-covered works, the court shall retain jurisdiction over any undistributable funds attributable to works written under any WGAW collective bargaining agreement, including the applicability, if any, of the California Unclaimed Property law. code Civ.. Proc. PR OC. 1500 – 1582, or the payment of such funds to a cy pres recipient
[How did this CY PRES amount come to be one million or 1/157th million of the total foreign levy amount when for years the lawyers told the judges that delays in sending foreign levies were because of computer problems or missing names – yet this One Mil is less than one half of one percent of the “distributed” money of 157 million – or was that money really distributed? What about the tens of thousands of checks that were shredded according to WGA employees? This is nowhere reflected in the audit. Where are the rest of my checks for non-union films, taken without my knowing? Can THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK have gotten foreign levies only starting 2012 after 11 years in the marketplace? What about the checks from 1974? -- And if all money has been accounted for, where is it? This is WGA-Gibberish accounting. The WGA hired the accounting firm KPMG as defendants hiring their own cover-up, and the class consultant Don Jasko made his own separate deal with Don Gor, the Chief Financial Officer at the WGA. How can these relationships not be espied as consensual fraud?]
My recent checks from the WGA for “IRON MASK” are notably the first and only royalties I have received in the 15 years the guild has been accepting them for my films. (They’ve collected on LAW AND DISORDER since 1974; THE HAPPY HOOKER shortly thereafter.)
After nine years of litigation and numberless requests, these Carl Gottlieb checks are the first-ever evidence the WGA was taking money of non-union members and not accounting for it . -- And they are not accounting for the total “in full” as demanded by the settlement.
Not only are the foreign levy accountings nonexistent, but also the overall audit “numbers” do not add up in any consistent way, which is not good for numbers.
NUMBERS IN WHIPLASH: In 2010 Tony Segall said the WGA had a sum of $25.30 million “due to members.” But then suddenly, in 2011, it says it paid out $104 million to 9000 writers; but wait -- in 2013 that number rises to 157 million “collected” – hold on: back in 2004 the union was only holding 230,000 for members in residuals/foreign levies – except that number jumped to 4 million in 2004 and then in 2005 the WGA was saying that “funds held in trust for members and Undeliverable funds” totaled around $24 million in the unions “trust” accounts.
Perplexingly, these low foreign levy numbers were from those giddy profitable pre-strike years prior to 2007, which were the high earning years for writer DVD sales, before there were no more good movies to sell DVDs partly due to the strike.
At the wga.org there is no accounting whatsoever for any of the money the non-profit WGAw accepted for non-union writers and split with the studios.
For U.S. authors and screenwriters who do not want to work or create under labor union jurisdiction, this scenario is closer in movie lingo to 12 YEARS AS A SLAVE than NORMA RAE. The unions portray these royalties to the court as if they were taken from the studios and given to the writers -- but the very opposite is true. These billions were diverted carefully by the WGA from both the non-union writers to the coffers of the union and the studios via the offices of Don Gor at the WGAw under the direction of Robert Hadl and Carl Gottlieb, among others.
If you look at the publications the WGA chose to inform America’s non-union freelance screenwriters about a pro-union class action settlement – it’s laughable, with a satiric ha-ha for the 90,000 –plus freelance writers the WGA took money for – then didn’t pay out. There is a criminal category for this behavior that the settlement narrowly avoided in favor of the union; till now.
The ads meant to inform America’s screenwriters about their class action lawsuit were placed for any eye-blink in VARIETY – how many free or “free lance” writers read this Hollywood insider paper? -- Also the controlled settlement notice went to “Written-by” – which is a WGA union-only publication that freelancers have no real access to whatsoever. Now then, how about U.S. writers looking at “UKDAILY” for a settlement notice about their money? This kind of duplicitous dealing may not be contempt of court, but it is contempt for writers, and the plaintiff class.
Further, and alarming: as America’s writers get checks from the WGAw, they are becoming “data” within the union’s memory banks and the studios it consorts with. This is antithetical to the freedom of writers in general from invasive practices.
It is an outrage of unknown proportions that union/studio accountants and lawyers have taken and divided millions of dollars from non-union writers in almost every state of the union. It may have been explicable for them to do so after first making their deal with the studios in 1990-- but fifteen years of concealment and obfuscation and check shredding means stealing, not finding.
I am the last man standing in this lawsuit to represent the unrepresented freelance screenwriters and authors in the U.S. and it is my duty to seek adequate counsel, strategic helpers, and to alert writers about a massive secret union jurisdictional grab, and to the fact we are now and will in the limitless digital future be on union studio databases with personal and IRS and professional information they have no legal rights to -- except by the protecting dictates of this settlement, which is not being enforced.
Like thousands of others in my class of writers, I have other films to make, non-union as well as union. If this settlement is legally enforced within its four walls of deliberation and costly adjudication, and we exercise our rights to sue the unions and studios for splitting the money to begin with, in the future no studio shall have the right to take our royalties without our knowledge and consent. The nearly decade long ordeal that resulted in these class settlements are not like a Seinfeld episode -- about “nothing.” But to represent our rights within the settlement, it’s essential that the class have a lawyer who is “super” [not a super lawyer, an internet accolade which is for sale] -- a classy class lawyer, who speaks in the language of the courts and the law.(Seinfeld writers are in my class too although they are WGA members.)
It is my fault I admit that my presence in the courtroom was not as auspicious as if I were Tom Wolfe or old acquaintances and class members like Norman Mailer (deceased) or Truman Capote (deceased) or my pal Paddy Chayefsky (deceased) – not to mention Milos Forman -- any of these writers might have done a better job as class rep in both literary appraisals of the worth of the lawsuit and the chicanery of the players: unions not caring about members, lawyers not caring about clients, studios hiding behind studio walls -- maybe Upton Sinclair would’ve been the man for the job. It’s really about slaughter behind walls.
My friends and collaborators John Huston and Richard Condon would have stood up and been heard, for sure. -- Maybe even my famous and revered author contemporaries Don Delillo and Chris Buckley would speak out if they knew about this; both in my class, both with novels adapted by me for the screen. Too bad I’m blacklisted and unable to film them. (see attached.)
I am only one of the thousands of earnest original screenwriters whose legacy was taken by a thieving union, but all it takes, as your Honor said in the last hearing, is “One voice puts us on the record.”
Instead of receiving justice from a lawsuit this pleader believed in, our basic constitutional rights have been wrapped up and snuffed out in a legal connivance-- almost!-- by Hollywood “super-lawyers”. They may get top billing in the LA Journal and treat certain Judges to lunches, but Neville Johnson and Paul Kiesel are really high-echelon contingency chasers who commonly profit from folks like me, who just aren’t quite hefty enough fame-wise or rich enough money-wise to get the attention of lawyers who put principles before profits.
“A Class action can only bind those who are adequately represented,” Class Action Prof. William B. Rubenstein, UCLA.
Messrs. Johnson and Kiesel made their wealth and reputations by representing the voiceless against the mighty. But these mouthpieces speak mainly for themselves, and the voiceless remain unheard. Unless they are able to speak out, as I do now, on behalf of my class and me.
Maybe I’m just a romantic, which is how I got into the situation of being a contracted ‘CHAMPION” for lots of folks who either don’t know, don’t care, or are too scared to stand up to the bullies at the unions. (There have been serious articles written about whether writers should have children, based on their characteristics; if they can’t have kids, what are they doing “unionized?” Of course no writer is “unionized” the way authentic laborers are unionized. And this is the central deceit of any embrace of patron AFL-CIO, another issue.)
Since 1990 (in this regard) the unions have been saying “let them eat cake, if they can ever find it.” Among the signers of the original secret agreement between the WGA and DGA and the studios are Joel Grossman for Columbia and Robert Hadl for Universal. These studio lawyers also advise the unions and advise my own lawyers. How great it would be if the rest of the world was a cozy as they, or in concert with their devious actions.
These men, along with Carl Gottlieb and Tony Segall at the WGA and David Roth at DGA and Bob Bush and David White and Duncan Crabtree-Ireland at SAG -- all of them led by Robert Hadl --, are the real movers behind the “foreign levy program” (which current “program” phraseology was invented with my lawsuit.)
Although I rejected his involvement, and refused to attend a five-day mediation (which I still question), Joel Grossman nonetheless became the mediator in the 2012 settlement, while Robert Hadl is not only the union’s “counsel” but the “counsel” to my lawyer Neville Johnson, claiming to represent the writers, and the MPAA, representing the studios.
The tiny little bunch of cozy, crony controlling lawyers who invented the perpetual studio/union profit center they call the “foreign levy program,” add up to a mere 8 or 9 crooks (yes) with a mighty sway over the fates of hundreds of thousands of actors, writers and directors.
Neville Johnson dropped the Chinese-puzzle settlements of the DGA and SAG at the foot of the bench of Judge Wiley like an Alley Cat dropping a rat hoping for a favor. Mr. Johnson attempted to pass off the blame for his self-proclaimed “deficiency” onto the court, pleading croc-style for the Judge’s help in enforcing settlements that were deficient in any tools for enforcement.
While demanding additional fees along with his iffy motions for enforcement at the DGA and SAG, Mr. Johnson once again diverts attention from the from the true issues of audit and the “cy pres” donation at the WGA.
In the writer’s class action, no motions were made for enforcement, and consultant Don Jasko refused me as plaintiff any contact with any audit or accounting, at the order of Neville Johnson, who told the Plaintiff’s consult that “Mr. Richert will use them in a lawsuit against us.” Really? Even so, the plaintiff owns the right to all the evidence gathered on his/her behalf.
The DGA and SAG settlements are templates for payouts to class-action lawyers who take large payments for themselves in settlements that injure of the rights of their clients.
Patric Verrone, David Young, Chris Heyser and Carl Gottlieb and the WGA finance committee and Board of Directors authorized millions of dollars in fees to Tony Segall and his law firm, and Dan Schecter’s law firm, and Bob Bush’s law firm, to defend the unions and the WGA against true charges of hiding or absconding with even more millions taken from unwitting non-union American screenwriters, maybe 105,000 since Tony Segall never said which part of that number were union writers. (Hard to guess which lies are the poppers when the “pot” John Wells called kettle P. Verrone “a liar.”
There has been deafening silence from all parties at the court of Jude Wiley all these months since that last hour-long hearing in 2012, after the Judge himself spoke about how contentious these settlements can be – yet nobody says a word about these matters, not a whisper from any of the thousands of writers, actors and directors owed about upwards of 4 billion dollars in missing royalties – most unusual.
(There is however a righteous case being re-filed in Federal Court in LA by Sunny Wise and Eric Hughes and his USAC group headed by former SAG President Ed Asner. That will provide new evidence for this lawsuit, too: over 1,000 pages.)
Remarkably, since the WGAw contract was signed there has been no move for enforcement of any provision of the settlement; while the DGA and SAG settlements are frozen “forever” allowing the DGA to account at its pleasure the $50 million it take in yearly for Directors who have no idea– or maybe not.
The drama in the courtroom with Mr. Johnson’s combative approach to Judge West (“Maybe you think it over in chambers,” said the cocky Mr. Johnson) looked very real, like the way paid-off boxers have to take a hit or two; and it almost appears his stratagems have worked, as the DGA and SAG settlements block all transparency, while Mr. Johnson disappears into the murky swamp of peer recognition. But the fat lady waits in the wings holding hands with Lady Justice outside the boardroom door at the Writer’s Guild.
Neville Johnson solicited me to help in what he called the “scandal” for non-union writers at the WGA. Next I found out I was the only litigant by reading the front page of The New York Times.
When I figured something stinking was up – you don’t have to be an accountant to smell a rat – I became a wary, protesting class representative. I have remained the only writer in the plaintiff class.
Outside, there were profound and successful objections from the likes of WGA screenwriter-expert and activist Eric Hughes (AGAINST ALL ODDS.)
Before agreeing to settle, I was told by two Superior Court Judges that the lawsuit would provide “transparency” into the royalties for all U.S. writers, even if it meant the WGA would be allowed continue to say that it’s 7% was the entire sum until the truth was accounted for. Because of my reservations, the union had to pay out three times more to Messers. Johnson and Kiesl to settle WILLIAM RICHERT VS WGA as other guilds paid for their lawsuits.
Maybe Neville’s $1.6 million vs. his $400 thousand for the SAG and DGA does not mean our class’ settlement provides 3 times the protection against piracy ; but the WGA settlement does provide redress and accountability that the other settlements do not, and these details make the difference between justice and continuing economic tyranny for non union writers. Neville Johnson was the lawyer for all 3 unions, and did 3 depositions in total – all at the WGA, all showing serious infractions, all ignored in the courtroom.
[SAG and DGA paid Neville Johnson so little, compared with the WGA 1.6 million payout made by the union’s inside/outside counsel Tony Segall, that Mr. Johnson could hardly do any work, so the unions succeeded in having their case proudly settled by Judge West “with prejudice.” So nobody would be able to look at them again. Such is the way the unions in Hollywood take care their members’ trust. Judge West did not settle the WGA suit “with prejudice,” though it was based on the same exact premise. I was a loyal union member myself until the WGA STOLE my credit for THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT/WEST WING, which I shall not describe in this context,and about which Eric Hughes has written at length, for it shows the union’s ongoing contempt for law and writers.]
Instead of making any attempt to rectify or correct the losing situation he created for his actor and director clients “forever, with prejudice” Mr. Johnson has taken his money and run. [Maybe he doesn’t realize a quarter million people, along with their relatives and heirs, can chase him. His hubris high, his offices are all made of glass.]
Neville Johnson and his firm Johnson & Johnson claim to be holding 58K in evidence and other documents regarding enforcement of the settlement which may concurrently help prosecute the “fraud” that Mr. Johnson described in court in two separate hearings. Since the court says Mr. Johnson was paid “in full,” this all belongs to the plaintiff(s) and must be given up.
Without recourse I was that lonely writer surrounded by lawyers in a courtroom full of lies hoping for a hearing from a judge, and you gave it to me many moons ago, and here I am again, pleading to be heard, but this time the case is “ripe” for enforcement in the parlance of courts, so you can stick a “fork” into it, in the parlance of Judge Wiley.
RICHERT VS WGA SETTLEMENT DEMANDS TRANSPARENCY “FROM INCEPTION.”
CANON 9: ‘THE MERE POSSIBILITY THAT THE ATTORNEY MAY ACT TO FURTHER HIS OWN INTERESTS OVER THOSE OF THE CLASS PRESENTS A CONFLICT MANDATING DISQUALIFICATION”
APPEARANCE OF IMPROPRIETY
AS TIME PASSES QUICKLY it will soon become starkly apparent that the entire foreign levy “program” was as phantom as a bunko skit, fast as electronic transfers of billions – written and tightly controlled by a tiny group of studio-union lawyers, front man for the studios being Universal’s Head Counsel Robert Hadl --also representing the actors writers and directors – and for the WGAw we had Universal’s JAWS writer and WGA organizer since 1968, the braggadocio Jaw-breaker, current treasurer of the union – Carl Gottlieb, whose patron as a WGA writer is none other than Steven Spielberg. And of course all of this does matter to the pocketbooks and copyrights of writers who do not cow-tow to Hollywood, but have nonetheless innocently been skewered by a lawsuit with my name on it.
If Neville Johnson had been paid, as contingency lawyers are mostly paid in large class action lawsuits, his take should have been one third of the amount the WGA says it paid out – or roughly $50 million dollars. I think he only took $1.6 because that was his “understanding” with Robert Hadl to begin with. ( I Saw Mr. Hadl sitting behind me at every single court appearance.)
More significant is that if the WGA says it paid out $157,000,000 to U.S. writers, it really “accepted and divided” somewhere around $1.4 billion dollars meant for U.S. writers, money taken by labor unions and divided with management, as they like to call themselves. I have other names for blokes like these. In all my years as a screenwriter, starting back in ’63 (that’s 1963), I have never worked for “management.”
We need to know exactly where that 1.4 billion dollars went, as it is all accounted for someplace, and how much was sent for not-for-hire non-union authors, starting with a bone fide audit of my checks for THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK “from inception,” which audit is the purpose of the Lead Plaintiff as template for the class – and which provenance of transparency was the whole point of the 3-court litigation. Not mentioning the major MPAA studios all these years in either the Federal or State courts or in the press was an awesome, impressive achievement for Mr. Hadl and his group, like writing about Joan of Arc and never referring to the Inquisition.
[I spent ten years penning my version of THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK, and even longer on other scripts. It was a work of freedom, not a work for hire, and I solely own the copyright for both script and film, which I originally wrote for River Phoenix (deceased.) For the likes of the WGA and Universal and Carl Gottlieb or Robert Hadl to abscond with a single penny meant for me or any of my artists should send them to the pen for piracy along with perjury.]
Maybe John Grisham will help find the right lawyer. Maybe Bill Lerach has got his California bar back. As Bill Murray says, “Groundhog day is over” (written by class member Harold Ramis (diseased) and Danny Rubin (alive.)
In no way did your Honor shut the door to his chambers on justice for the 250,000 souls touched by the ramifications of these once-joined litigations for fraud and conversion, which fraud goes on at this hour, with the same union lawyers and union “leaders” like Patric Verrone and Carl Gottlieb marching round the circles of its doubletalk conundrum, like puffed figurines in a clock in the center of Prague (where some of my class members may now be residing.)
-- Actually, my class action lawsuit more-like resembles those fake Prada bags that carry the wallet for a while, then come apart at the seams, exposing the sham, although its purse may still carry some weight, the way a fake Rolex will tell time until its phony mechanism burns out, corruptions turning to ashes inside out, Hadl’s dropping out of moneybags.
Copyrights are not mere “intellectual property,” since there are real dummies who’ve written for movies and television. Copyright means bone fide irreducible ownership, unless sold or licensed; never stolen. Each and every WGA foreign levy check says “copyright.” And now that the WGA has accounted for 157,000 million sent to writers – with only 1 million of that not-accounted-for, and even that money should have an accounting – the WGA should have no trouble looking up my missing checks PDQ, being already accounted for.
Your Honor has declared “All parties should be heard,” and the time is ripe for a hearing. This case is nowhere never “res judica” but, as you have said, “very active.” Perhaps, if the walls of willful obfuscation in the settlement are too high for the writers to be free of this agreement’s encumbrances, we may need to refresh the original complaint.
Writers of all kinds are a great treasure for society, and their property, rights, and honor have to be protected as any endangered species.
Like our friend the honeybee, vanishing from the pollinating flowers of America, writers get missed when they start to disappear even – maybe especially – from Hollywood. The magic will light up again with their return.
AS BOTH PLAINTIFF AND WRITER- OBSERVOR, and having read your original writing on patents and copyright, [maybe I should have “patented” my work, for if anything, original writing is the essence of singular invention and useful arts] I look forward to your Honor’s continuing adjudication of our class action case.