Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2013 00:24:49 -0500
Subject: Valentine's Day Appeal For Justice
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TO: KATHERINE FUGATE
CC TONY SEGALL, CARL GOTTLIEB ET. AL.
Hi Katherine –
Although this correspondence is directed to the entire WGA Board, as well as all guild officers, fiduciaries, and associated entities, I am addressing you in particular because of an incident that took place on June 27, 2011, in which you questioned Tony Segall, Esq. about an email chain between myself and various WGA Board members and legal representatives, that took place between April and June 2011. (Entire e-chain attached to refresh your memory.)
According to an internal WGA memo recently brought to my utter attention, you appeared to have been the only Board Member ‘man enough’ to directly confront Mr. Segall about the ongoing and not-going-way American President/West Wing credits dispute.
Without knowing all the details of your face-to-face, it unfortunately appears that Segall's standard-issue-response to you -- "that Court case was dismissed" -- was enough to assuage your concerns at the time re: whether or not sole writing credit for both the film and TV series had been awarded to Aaron Sorkin as the result of a 'conspiracy of fraud’ of breathtaking scope and historic dimension, even for Hollywood."
But newly discovered evidence of this infamous 'Credits Cold Case' crime is even more damning now than it was in 2011/2012, not to mention in 1995, as the dust keeps settling, and the noose of Truth continues to tighten, around a growing body of freshly unearthed facts. Meanwhile, it’s Feb. 2013, and yet somehow it feels like yesterday is right around the rotten corner again, does it not?
I can only imagine the current shock and chagrin of Board Members and associates working for Lance Armstrong, having for decades been bull-shitted repeatedly by their celebrity hero, as well as by his legal-spin-cycle mouthpieces...all clone-like graduates of The Tony Segall 'Liar' -- oops -- 'Law School of Pedaled Deception?'
And where, one wonders, did outside counsel, Mr. Segall, get his PHD Degree in Perjury, since anyone willing to corrupt a U.S. Federal Court case, as Tony knowingly did in 2002, must have a comfortable bankroll of guild-pooled-bail-money -- enough, should the charade ever fall apart, to spring everyone out of the liability clink...or maybe just him and his cozy-crony-band of producer-writer-co-conspirators.
The WGA recently returned Dalton Trumbo's rightful film credit after 58 dark and shameful years. Scores of other such credits have also been so reinstated.
How, then, does the WGA Board – and the Board’s lawyer Tony Segall -- justify its refusal to answer – your question included -- my many prior requests in plain English for information about the proper WGA procedure by which to correct a corrupted credits process from the inglorious past?...Well, is there...? I'm asking again.
As you alone seemed to have been the only Board Member of note with any ‘balls’, or conviction, it’s time to march back into Segall's lair and demand an in-depth explanation of the following email I've just received from my President Elopes AKA American President co-writer, Bill Richert, along with a filed chronology of factual bells and whistles.
Hey, The U.S Justice Department is now accusing S & P of fraud in a suit filed over inflated mortgage fund ratings, wherein the S & P is charged with “knowingly and with the intent to defraud, devised, participated in, and executed a scheme to defraud investors” Just change the last word to ‘writers’ and you have the same case, but this time against producer-writers like Sorkin, Wells, Reiner, et al.
Do the right thing, Dear Katherine and WGA Board...do something! Whether you believe so or not, your necks are on the line, while the boys in the backroom have their bags all packed, in the unlikely case you ‘fall guys’ AKA ‘suckers & suck-ups” ever decide to perform your appointed job of cleaning house…when it all stinks to high heaven.
“You must speak straight so that your words may go as sunlight to our heart.” -- Cochise
WGA member with rights not to be wronged.
FROM: WILLIAM RICHERT
FAUX EMERITUS MEMBER-IN-ARREARS
RICHERT VS. WGAw et. al.
February 14, 2013
IN 2012 we re-examined the relationship between John Wells, Alan Horn, Julia Bingham, Rob Reiner, Carl Gottlieb, Warner Brothers, NBC, and Castle Rock during the period the Writer’s Guild in Hollywood was awarding sole credit for THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT to Aaron Sorkin.
In the past 12 months we also discovered that an evidential 1991 screenplay draft pre-dating the Aaron Sorkin draft was missing from the chain of screenplays and contracts presented by CEO Alan Horn to the WGAw for credit arbitration, along with the contracts with Universal Pictures and Robert Redford/Wildwood.
The "four corners" of these intra-studio contracts will only be given to us in court discovery; until now, they've never seen the light of day outside of inner WGAw circles behind closed doors.
We further looked at the “special relationship” between the Castle Rock SVP/lawyer, Julia Bingham, and Aaron Sorkin, as she was attempting to coax him into rehab for crack cocaine even while signing on as his future wife, with a 50/50 split (in California) of his earnings from THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT and THE WEST WING.
With guidance from Eric Hughes, guild opposition leader and noted expert on writers' credits, who ran for WGAw President in 2004 on a pledge to clean up the credits arbitration systems for inherent unfairness leading to corruption, we looked at the crony partnership between WGAw official Carl Gottlieb and Castle Rock Studio Owner-WGA honcho Rob Reiner.
Reiner falsely and deceptively claimed to be the sole AMERICAN PRESIDENT producer in his statement to the WGAw, ignoring Redford's lengthy prior involvement as producer and star when the movie project was titled THE PRESIDENT ELOPES, which would have 'guaranteed' our rightful credit.
Meanwhile, Reiner's partner and WGAw operative, Carl Gottlieb, became part of the “fair” judge & jury in a “pre arbitration committee” scheme that denied us of our rights as original authors.
Full disclosure of all the participants in the case at the WGAw will show that Carl Gottlieb participated in the false “pre arbitration hearing”, never lawfully disclosing his long profitable business ties to Rob Reiner at Castle Rock, even as Gottlieb orchestrating the "foreign levy program" that cost the guild dearly in my 8 year lawsuit RICHERT VS. WGAw et. al.
Also – and of utmost significance – we only recently discovered after nineteen years that there had actually never been a group WGA writers assigned to compare the earlier original script by us to the later screenplay drafts I and other accomplished screenwriters wrote, along with the script of the last hired screenwriter/falsifier, Aaron Sorkin.
Such common sense comparison of screenplays, never occurred in our case, even though Alan Horn wrote a malicious letter to the LA press, union members and studio executives stating that it had.
There was no side by side “expert reader” examination of screenplays by our peers as required by the writers’ union, and this key piece of information -- that they ignored the process meant to grant legal script credit -- was kept hidden all these years by guild insiders and WGAw outside legal counsel.
Sorkin was supported by a pattern of crony relationships within the writer's union which he controls with John Wells even to this day, as demonstrated with their videos together on youtube.
In his sworn testimony in a NY District Court, union mouthpiece Tony Segall falsely claimed such an arbitration had taken place, thus committing perjury in 2002, his filing with the court remains a corruption of the court proceedings in front of Judge Morrer.
Virtually all those connected with the WGAw in 1995 were aware that Sorkin had never provided anybody any other screenplay during the year he did his 10 or more revisions while freebasing crack. His lawyer Richard Heller lied in person to the WGAw. None of those named above have denied or disputed the charges we've made in the years since the WGAw credit became final, except to say that the WGAw followed its own rules, although it did not and clearly did the opposite, earning hundreds of millions in profits for the involved studios, Aaron Sorkin, Reiner, Horn, Redford, et al. along with Sorkin's ex-wife and WGAw insiders like John Wells, Sorkin's admitted partner and soon-to-be producer of THE WEST WING.
But until this past year, we lacked the material evidence to make civil and criminal charges that cannot be summarily dismissed by a lied-to and misinformed Judge.
THE PRESIDENT ELOPES was an original story and concept I created and wholly-owned, based on my experiences interviewing the daughters of American Presidents about their fathers for "60 Minutes" in 1970. I sold my 3-page fictional synopsis to Disney, where Alan Horn ironically is now CEO, in 1982, under a standard “Assignment of Rights” agreement whereupon I commenced and wrote an original screenplay called THE PRESIDENT ELOPES with Kyle Morris.
According to the strict WGA rules, our original screenplay THE PRESIDENT ELOPES guaranteed us an “irreducible story by” credit in recognition of our ownership and right to profit from the "exploitation" of our work. As per the industry standard assignment of rights, this screenplay was called a “work for hire,” a collective bargaining contract phrase which grants the studios copyright under a contract with author’s copyright ownership protected by the Writer's Guild of America’s Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA).
Although re-written since 1982 by other screenwriters at several studios, including ABC Films and Universal Pictures/Wildwood, and Castle Rock Pictures, the underlying story was and is the same, even when the characters and story line template successfully morphed into THE WEST WING as a television series.
The story sprung in its particulars from the several months I spent in and out of the Nixon White House during the Watergate Era, when I interviewed Nixon’s Daughters for '60 Minutes' with the help of Margaret Truman and Katherine Graham of The Washington post, in whose house I met with Alice Longworth Roosevelt.
In my White House visits, and from my co-producer who knew Nixon intimately, I got the impression of a very isolated President, a loner, and this spawned the idea of a widower in the White House looking for a mate. There was (is) no other similar story in U.S. history, including books, films and on television, until THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT, with Sorkin’s title change of a single word.
The title change from my 1991 PRESIDENT ELOPES draft screenplay, THE EXECUTIVE WING, to Sorkin's THE WEST WING also required a single word change. But nobody could even notice this because my screenplay was never submitted by Castle Rock for comparison at the 1995 credits arbitration -- it was purposely kept back for reasons now revealed.
The credit on a produced screenplay determines not only professional standing; the credit on the screenplay determines the amount of money the authors and their partners and agents (and ex-wives in Sorkin's case) receive, and might include millions in future ancillary rights and sales, including foreign levies.
Screenplay credits are determined by the WGA hierarchy in secret in a ritual arbitration proceeding which often acts according to unscripted ad hoc rules -- and as Credits Administrator Sally Burmeister admitted during a credit arbitration on "The Last Samurai", the rules are often made up between her and her lawyer superior. This red flag was also waved to no avail by the writer-plaintiff's attorney, Neville Johnson, using the "American President"candidacy credit theft as the most blatant case in point:
FROM ‘THE LAST SAMURAI’ LAWSUIT DECLARATION:
[In]…the outrageous conduct of the WGA in this matter, the "little guy" writer is no longer protected by the WGA, but instead must protect himself or herself from the WGA and be constantly vigilant for traps laid by its staff, one hell-bent on power, self-preservation and avoiding accountability, and a Board that operates in secret as if a politburo from the Cold War era.
20. Because the WGA is now rudderless and does not protect its own members, there is no other remedy but through the courts as the union is unwilling and/or incapable of adequately representing its members. This untenable and unfair situation has lasted for many years: first with The American President, a major success which spawned the hit television show, The West Wing, which was derived from The President Elopes, written by William Richert and Kyle S. Morris and for which Aaron Sorkin falsely appropriated credits. Richert and Morris were denied a full and fair hearing by the WGA as to whether they should have received credits. In that matter, Richert and Morris were not timely notified of hearings being conducted regarding credits, nor permitted to mount an appropriate claim, and denied the opportunity to confront and challenge Sorkin's claims. Sorkin's lawyer at the time claimed that Sorkin was ill and could not attend any hearing; the truth was that Sorkin was at the time a crack cocaine addict, which Sorkin admitted several years ago in an article in The New York Times.
The inherent potential for unfairness of the system was first given its due when noted screenwriter Eric Hughes (AGAINST ALL ODDS) ran for President of the WGAw to clean up the credit process. His political candidacy and fight for the rights of writers had to be re-examined by the Department of Labor after he lost under suspicious circumstances. He still continues his efforts, and vows he will not give up until the rights of writers have been restored. It is Mr. Hughes new look and review of our case which gives hope of a fair and just outcome.
During the period he was rewriting our screenplay, Sorkin was under contract to Castle Rock and re-writing scripts for Steven Spielberg at the time; as an employee of Castle Rock and partner to Rob Reiner and betrothed to Ms. Julia Bingham, Esq., Sorkin basically bought the copyright for himself from Redford for his own company - and then disabled Mr. Richert and Mr. Morris’s ability to sue as they did not own the underlying copyright, as it had been assigned to Disney at the outset, and was supposed to be protected by the Writer's Guild's own laws.
Ms. Bingham, who became Mrs. Sorkin a few months after her husband was awarded sole credit on THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT, was head of business affairs at Castle Rock Pictures and right-hand woman to Alan Horn, CEO at Castle Rock, the studio putting up the money. The other Castle Rock partner was Rob Reiner, who put his name only as Producer on the submissions to the Guild, ignoring that Robert Redford was his co-producer on the film, which connection would certainly have required that we got credit. Owner Rob Reiner also refused to mention that Castle Rock had already been acquired by Warner Brothers at the time of the phony “arbitration,” or that John Wells was in discussion with NBC about a television series -- or that Alan Horn was moving over to Warner's as President of the Film and Television Entertainment, with acknowledged oversight of the studio's close relationship with Castle Rock -- all indications that The West Wing was already becoming a television series.
Sorkin's lawyer, Richard Heller, flat-out lied to the “special committee” at the guild, testifying that his client had no access to the prior scripts and had never read a single draft of any of them. Later his statements were shown false when Sorkin himself admitted he had read an earlier draft of a President Elopes script AFTER he got sole story and screenplay credit. Sorkin’s admission by letter that he had met with producer Robert Redford about the same widower-President-romance storyline was not discovered until the 2002 Richert/Morris lawsuit was filed.And even to this day it's unknown whether this specious, Sorkin self-justification letter to Sally Burmeister ever made it to the Credits Process, for it would have won our case hands down.
Before their affair turned to marriage, the future Mrs. Sorkin herself referred to the scripts on Castle Rock company letterhead as THE PRESIDENT ELOPES AKA THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT, clearly acknowledging Sorkin was not the sole writer, even as she was arranging his stay "due to exhaustion" at Hazeldon Rehab Hospital for the real reason of crack addiction, a condition even Sorkin himself said turned him into a chronic liar.
Richert and Morris filed a 2002 lawsuit in New York, but the case was dismissed before discovery because of the near-total reliance of the judge on the WGA's statement that the credits were fairly arbitrated at the Guild within their Minimum Basic Agreement, which they were not.
Robert Redford and Universal Pictures got credit as producers on THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT. Mr. Richert worked closely with Mr. Redford for years, and Redford's name was on the film credits along with Aaron Sorkin's sole writing credit. Furthermore, the film was released in theaters BEFORE the WGAw credits arbitration process was even finalized. There was apparently never any question among those in the know about who would get the writing credit. When asked if the decision was fair, Redford shrugged it off with a "they got screwed."
We were asked to believe that there were two different widower-President-romance scripts that 'merged' and Castle Rock (or perhaps Warner's) was paying for one and not the other. And all Sorkin had to say in writing -- and never was to prove -- was that he was hired to write an original screenplay. One simple statement, not made under oath or backed up with contracts like those of Mr. Richert and Mr. Morris, was enough for Sorkin to steal by guile, deceit, and conflicted crony friends in high places a valuable, major feature film enterprise many years in the making before him.
According to a written statement by Alan Horn, he and Sorkin’s partners -Julia Bingham &Rob Reiner paid Redford five million dollars for the THE PRESIDENT ELOPES screenplay, to keep it "off the market for other reasons" – meaning THE WEST WING, which John Wells was already bringing to NBC with Aaron Sorkin as his producing partner and "creator by".
Thus illegally, and in full view of the screenwriters and other industry leaders who were perplexed and dumfounded by the front-page Variety and LA TIMES reporting of controversial decision by the WGAw, Aaron Sorkin got sole credit on other writers’ work, and this got him and his partners the tens of millions in profit from benefits of copyright even though what Sorkin did was a rewrite, just like the dozen other writers over the decades.
The similarities between the scripts would have been obvious to anyone actually reading them or comparing them, but the scripts were never read or compared by the WGA as part of the 'special conditions' of this particular “credit arbitration process.” There was never any “expert reader” arbitration at all, as declared WGAw opposition leader and credits expert Eric Hughes, though the WGA legal team wrote craftily worded letters implying that there was. Instead, a “special committee” was created by the union led by Carl Gottlieb, a partner of Rob Reiner who was a partner of Aaron Sorkin, and the committee gave the scripts to “readers” who did not read for story and script likenesses as required by the guild, but who read contracts to see whether William Richert and Kyle Morris’ scripts were connected to the Sorkin script contractually.
All along Sorkin claimed he had started his “separate” screenplay concurrent with the William Richert-Kyle Morris screenplay, but he never produced any kind of script or outline or notes whatsoever, as there never was any other screenplay.
William Richert and Kyle Morris were cut out of the entire credit process, and in 2012 John Wells began accepting credit as “creator” of the WEST WING, when he was one of the WGA Board Members with powerful influence on the credits committee, and he was selling THE WEST WING series with Sorkin within months to his continuing partner Alan Horn, who was already taking over as President of Warner Bros.
Sorkin himself has stated many times that the source of THE WEST WING lay in research he did for THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT. He is telling the truth for once, as the source of the series is clearly found in "The Executive Wing", the draft by William Richert written for Redford just before Redford joint ventured the project with Reiner and Sorkin at Castle Rock.
Had William Richert and Kyle Morris been given their rightful “created by “ credit as mandated by the union, instead being subjected of a bogus “SPECIAL COMMITTEE” which deprived them of their rights in a special, insider-trading, crony way – so complex it took years to reveal itself in sum -- they would have been part owners of both the film and the television series derived from their writings, earning rightful percentages and fees, with materially and spiritually different lives, as they would be owners of profit -- not victims of institutional fraud.
In front of the complicit, knowing, fully cognizant eyes and ears of the director and producers of THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT and THE WEST WING, Aaron Sorkin and his soon to be wife, Julia Bingham -- aided by their insider partners Rob Reiner and John Wells at the writer's union -- accomplished a near billion dollar theft of copyright from the true original authors and creators of the characters and story behind the movie and the series.
Continuing efforts by Richert and Morris to reverse this ongoing injustice have been institutionally and purposely stonewalled by the WGA and the producers -- all well versed in hiding illegal collusion behind a perennial firewall of guild collective bargaining procedural subterfuge. This case, however, is about plain and simple and ongoing fraud, that I believe can be reopened and won via new discovery of fraud in a civil and possible criminal suit.
It took twenty years to pull the curtain back on a well-connected crook like Madoff, and inveterate deniers like Lance Armstrong, who should have looked to Hollywood WGAw entrenched cronies-club for instructions on how to create a 'free pass' for blatant fraud, collusion and theft of millions.
Last year the WGAw gave Dalton Trumbo his screen credit on ROMAN HOLIDAY after 58 years, with the Board of Directors restoring his credit.
The Board of Directors is responsible for the restoration or denial of credits, and are directly responsible for the actions f their attorney, Tony Segall.
“It is not in our power to erase the mistakes or the suffering of the past,” said WGAW President Chris Keyser. “But we can make amends, we can pledge not to fall prey again to the dangerous power of fear or to the impulse to censor, even if that pledge is really only a hope. And, in the end, we can give credit where credit is due.
Our credit is due and counting, though we can’t count on John Wells to get it for us as he did for Mr. Trumbo, as he is getting millions of USD in income from world wide distribution of our work.
The WGAW and its Board of Directors will presently do the right thing, we must insist.
ONWARD -- Bill
PS: the documents and evidence for these charges are continued in the attached files, along with my numbered annotations.
Subject: 7/6/11 reply to Stephen Schiff re: President Elopes AKA American President
Date: Wed, 6 Jul 2011 12:30:12 -0400
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Dear Stephen -- First & foremost, thank you for having the consideration and yes courage to reply to my email(s). And heaven forbid you might have to set fingers to keyboard again, especially after showering away any/all guilt by association to past WGAw sins, which are ongoing up to this very communication.
The newly discovered evidence of fraud I've been alluding to in the email chain below is not about a bad decision or missing document. It concerns an altogether missing credit arbitration process; one that we'd all assumed took place -- BUT NEVER DID -- back in 1995, under the supposedly fair and equitable auspices of the guild. As a result, Aaron Sorkin infamously received sole writing credit vis-a-vis a 'special circumstances' banner waved high (a la guild-orders-from-above) by Sally Burmester, Cathy Reed, Carl Gottlieb, and other unscrupulous orchestrators of the American President AKA President Elopes debacle. Years later, however, while under oath at a court deposition re: still another credits dispute, Burmester even admitted -- before video cameras, no less -- to the arbitration scam that stole our rightful, deserved authorship.
Stephen, with all due respect to your apparently well intentioned belief that no malfeasance and/or criminal activities have occurred, a small coterie of producers and studio honchos nevertheless insider-benefited when Aaron "American Plagiarist" Sorkin also promptly stamped his name only on The West Wing -- a TV series clearly derived fromThe Executive Wing -- one of the many President Elopes rewrites that were readily accessible to Mr. Gleaming Smile, as you call him, who'd already admitted to have white-lied (as in cocaine-white) about ever having read any of the prior succession of President Elopes screenplays.
In an economic/career nutshell, had Bill Richert and I been awarded our rightful and guaranteed 'irreducible minimum story-by credit" on President Elopes AKA American President, we would've shared West Wing 'created-by' credit with Sorkin, whose personal cut to date of the hit show excesses a hundred million dollars, while leaving billions in syndication loot to be divvied up by various powers that be, both known and unknown, such as Alan Horn, Castle Rock's President, who promptly jumped ship to become President of Warner Brothers (home of The West Wing), as well as John 'Conflict-of-Interest' Wells -- long Sorkin's business partner/associate -- who became both a West Wing producer and, lo and behold, twice WGAw President!
No wonder nobody in a fiduciary-bound, WGA executive capacity on either guild coast wants to reply in any manner to my very simple request "for a list of all available remedies afforded to Guild members who wish to present factual evidence of a fraudulent credits arbitration, in order to overturn it." Furthermore, no one, including you, Stephen, answered if there is a President Elopes AKA American President file documenting what happened in 1995. Are such WGA files religiously kept? If so, when can I stop by the guild to review it?
Stephen, as co-chairman of the Credits Department, you may wish to take another discerning peek at Sorkin's damning 1995 letter to Sally Burmester/WGA. Doesn't the merging of two original screenplays call for a credits procedure that did not occur in our case? And doesn't Sorkin's admittance in writing to direct access to Robert Redford, the project's star & producer at the time -- who was very much aware of the story particulars in the many President Elopes scripts he'd developed through his company, Wildwood, since 1986 -- automatically mean at least a story-by credit had to go to the first writers (us) of the first and only original screenplay (ours)? And, not to belabor the point, but isn't this just the kind of credit manipulation you state that you and others at the Credits Committee are striving to rectify, so that bad decisions are less likely? Well, what better way to begin than by looking into the facts and actions that took place at the fraudulently non-existent "President Elopes" AKA "American President" credit arbitration hoax perpetrated in the mid-nineties?
FYI: In a recently rediscovered video interview (soon to air on YouTube) Rob Reiner, Castle Rock owner, producer, director, and WGAw screenwriter, is a man who stated at the Westwood premier of President Elopes AKA American President that Sorkin "had to be doing a rewrite of the President Elopes -- otherwise I'd have had to start the whole project all over again, starring Michael Douglas." There is also a recent and most disturbing WGA conference declaration by Sorkin lambasting the guild's irreducible story-by credit rules to WGA President, John Wells, who appears to agree with him (Mr. Wells has had angry writer/credit settlements to hide under rug with his own personal pay offs)
Stephen, you don't have to read any of the President Elopes scripts, if you don't want to. All you have to do is take a little closer look at Sorkin's letter to the guild, as well as his lawyer Richard Heller's equally disingenuous 1995 letter, which sits in your files like anthrax. (so, be careful about destroying evidence and obstruction of justice, boys and girls!)
This is not about flaws in the credits system. This is about systemic fraud by those who are supposed to guard and protect the integrity of the system for all guild writers, equally.
And contrary to Tony Segall's perfunctory denials that we have no new evidence of fraud, we do have in our possession overwhelming evidence, backed up by a highly credible, expert witness' testimony, that there never was a WGA/MBA credit arbitration re: President Elopes AKA American President.
Put another way, there never was any script other than President Elopes, the screenplay that Aaron Sorkin rewrote. Furthermore, the court system you suggest in your email as an alternative to seek justice re: unscrupulous producers: the court's refusal to "re try" the case relies entirely upon the truthfulness of a WGA arbitration, which the courts hold to be valid. In our case however, the Judge had no idea that such arbitration never happened because we didn't know that (then.)
Thus, in a chilling display of above-the-law-arrogance and entitlement-driven acts of duplicity, the WGA serves to not only exploit its non-insider-members, but also continues to defraud the U.S. courts with a fraudulent scheme of deception that violates our constitutional right to ownership, copyright and the fair reward for labor, not to mention our unalienable right to a fair hearing. It's 2011 where I work here in Manhattan, but apparently its still "1984" in the leadership rat's nest of the WGAw.
The flow of the river you describe has been polluted.
The time has come to clean it up, and clean house.
WGAe Member Emeritus.
PS: Unless I'm mistaken, new evidence of fraud restarts the Statute of Limitations clock, and does allow Tony Segall's closed case to be reopened.
PSS: You may also want to take another look at the troubling choice of words at the end of your email, then imagine hearing them, as if spoken with sincere conviction to millions of violated victims, alive or dead, by any number of dictators, tyrants, and connected sociopaths with gleaming smiles standing before history's endless podium of self justification:
But I think you should give up trying to change the path of this particular river. It has flowed the way it was meant to flow, has kept within its banks. I am truly sorry that it took you under -- Stephen Schiff
On Jun 25, 2011, at 1:41 AM, Stephen Schiff wrote:
I hesitate to enter this fray, and I can't claim any command of either the facts or the possible remedies. I'm also a little taken aback by your propensity for larding your argument, sound or not, with layers of abuse so thick that it's difficult - and, if you'll pardon me, tiresome - to excavate deeply enough to glimpse the actual merits of your case. Your vindictiveness and suspicion are understandable, but, to my way of thinking, they serve your argument poorly.
That said, I will wade in. Very temporarily. Please know that by the time you get to the end of this email, I will have waded back out, will have dried off and showered, and will be disinclined to get my toes wet again.
Without having read any of the scripts - which, I have to say, nothing on earth will make me do, so please perish that thought if it is now arising in you - I see two aspects of this case.
1) If I comprehend what's going on here, you, Kyle, are claiming as new evidence a document that indicates that one of the Richert scripts was not included in the arbitration. Is that right?
But here's my understanding about that. In an arbitration, it is up to participating writers to determine which scripts are included in the arbitration. I can see from the document you present that five Richert or Richert and Morris scripts or treatments were submitted in the arbitration, along with a polish and two rewrites of your scripts by other writers. That's a LOT of Richert-Morris material that was already in consideration. If you're saying that there was yet another script that should have been submitted and wasn't, it was up to you to make sure that it was included. If a mistake was made and it wasn't included, it was up to you to make that known. And if that mistake was discovered only after the arbitration, it was up to you to call for a Policy Review Board, assuming such remedies existed back then - I wasn't in the WGA then, I don't know when PRBs began, and I will leave that research to my betters.
If you're saying that you didn't discover the omission until just recently, my question is why not. If you have some evidence that you were misled about which drafts were submitted, both during the arbitration and in the aftermath when a Policy Review Board was still appropriate, where is that evidence? The "evidence" you include here is not that - at least not as far as I can see. It certainly doesn't look as though anyone was trying to mislead you.
Even if the missing draft had been submitted, it seems to me unlikely from the case you present that the arbiters would have decided other than they did. Given the enormous amount of Richert and Richert-Morris material they DID receive and read, it is very hard to buy the argument that the arbiters were not able to consider the possibility that the Sorkin draft was a rewrite of your drafts. They obviously DID consider that possibility, and, rightly or wrongly, rejected it through a normal, legal, and non-negligent process. Did your arbitration statement discuss the missing draft? I would think that if it had, the fact that it was missing might have been noticed. But if it didn't, then it's way too late to bring it up now.
Was a mistake made? If so, it is not a matter of malfeasance or dark plotting or corruptible WGAw officials being swayed by Aaron Sorkin's gleaming smile. And there is nothing here that tells me or anyone else that if the mistake had not been made the outcome would have been any different. Yes, it might have been. But the remedies for such an error, if indeed that error was made, were available to you, and they seemingly went unexploited. Aaron Sorkin's letter, Julia Bingham's relationship to him - none of this is evidence of anything wrong with the arbitration process, though it's understandable to me that it all pisses you off.
The only item here that would give anyone pause is Barbara Maltby's article in The American Scholar, but that's an opinion by an interested party, and our arbitrations are, and absolutely have to be, determined by professional writers examining only the literary material and the writers' arguments, and not by outside opinions of any kind, even informed ones. To me, it looks as though due process was followed.
Now it's true that due process can result in bad decisions. And those of us who have been working hard on the Credits Committee have striven to make changes in our rules and procedures so that bad decisions are less likely to happen, or so we seem to think. But you can't retry old cases under new laws. That's not how law works, not in the WGA and not in the wider world.
All right, end of Aspect One.
2) If you think you've been stolen from by unscrupulous producers, that's a different matter. Let's stipulate that the arbitration process worked properly, even if we think that it resulted in a bad decision. That doesn't mean people can steal your stuff. But that's not a matter for the WGA - that's a matter for the court system. And you know this, since you brought this case to the court system in 2003. It was tried there, and you lost. Maybe that was a bad decision too. I don't know what appeals process was available to you, or what you did after losing the case. But it looks to me as though that ship, too, has sailed.
Listen, Kyle, I think it's likely that you deserved some credit on An American President. I think I deserved credit on at least three movies I didn't get credit on. Our system pisses writers off, and always has. It is imperfect, like any system of rules or laws. I hope we can fix that, and we're trying, and I think you may well have been the victim of its imperfections. But not of some miscarriage. Not of some malfeasance. Not of some corruption. Not of any remediable wrongdoing. I can see why you're mad, but I don't see any reasonable recourse. You can curse the gods, curse the Guild, curse your fate, curse me - I don't blame you. But I think you should give up trying to change the path of this particular river. It has flowed the way it was meant to flow, has kept within its banks. I am truly sorry that it took you under.
You will be inclined, I'm sure, to argue with this email and point out its many flaws and misunderstandings. If you do, I will nod regretfully or shake my head furiously, but I will not set fingers to keyboard.
Good luck to you.
On 6/24/2011 5:12 PM, Kyle Morris wrote:
Dear Stephen...Well, as you can see by the email chain starting with you on 5/19/11, Tony Segall, Leslie Mackey MacCambridge, and Ann Burdick -- lawyers all, and all for one -- do not wish to inform members of our Guild -- including me, you, John Auerbach, and thousands of other WGA scribes -- what remedies are be available to reverse a credit arbitration process (as in THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT) that to this day stinks like an ancient sewer of greed buried beneath Aaron Sorkin's clubhouse hot-tub.
[I mean, how can this dark-side-of the-moon-live with himself? -- John Edwards has met his slime-mate! Though let's not exclude our closer to home secret-connivers, Carl Gottlieb, John Wells, Rob Reiner, Robert Redford, Cathy Reed and the other writer-insiders, who, along with their Alan-Horn-closed-circuit of politico/studio co-conspirators, spearheaded the ongoing fraud in this case with the credit department's hammer, Sally Burmester, as organizer. Amazingly, Carl Gottlieb's name was not included in any of Sally's many letters sent by US Mail.]
Maybe by now Segall et. al., are beginning to sense that the recent unearthing of newly discovered fraud and theft re: the American President AKA President Elopes is not going away. And lawyers like Segall who avoid their fiduciary responsibilities and/or use their position and legal status to self-deal and obfuscate are subject to all sort of sanctions, possibly even criminal.
While "equitable tolling" and statutory time limits are claimed by guild lawyers, we might Think Madoff, who finally got caught/exposed after 17 smug years of getting away with conspiracy, fraud, and intimidation. There are no statutory limits on the kind of fraud committed against Bill Richert and me within the union for writers.
Corporate-style union board members and committee members who remain silent re: these conspirators also become, in many ways (I'm not a lawyer but I can only imagine) willing and even earnest accomplices to the crimes...like thumbprints of drivers in the getaway cars of long ago bank robberies.
Stephen, by now it's clear nobody with executive and/or committee responsibility is responding to my query, or empathizing with our situation as writer's whose copyright has been controlled by plagiarists and pirates; the exact opposite of a place that protects works by original authors.
I do not expect to hear from you or anyone else in the guild about this...few among us ever want to risk rocking the boat, right? But morally, not standing up for justice will eventually sink the ship of democracy.
Easy to write about taking on the bad guys and wiping out corruption in a screenplay. Hard to live it in the real world, tho. So be it -- onwards and upwards -- your fellow WGA member -- Kyle Morris
PS: -- check out this 1994 Variety article. And just for fun, go back and review all of the other attachments.
Begin forwarded message:
From: Kyle Morris <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: June 16, 2011 2:30:59 PM EDT
Cc: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, Stephen Schiff <firstname.lastname@example.org>, John Auerbach <email@example.com>, Tony Segall <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Lesley Mackey McCambridge <email@example.com>, Eric Hughes <Charliemonkey1@aol.com>, PVerrone@aol.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, DNWeiss@comcast.net, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bcc: email@example.com, Kyle Morris <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: American President AKA President Elopes 6/16/11 -- resent for format
Dear Ann -- this email follow-ups my 6/1/11 questionnaire/memo (seen below at top of email chain).
You obviously are taking considerable care with the thoughtfulness of your response to this WGAe member Emeritus.
I am pleased, as well, that WGAw's Tony Segall,Esq. didn't answer my email to you and speak on your behalf, as he so surprisingly did when I sent a few questions to Lesley McCambridge, Esq. But maybe that's a West Coast legal-ego-thing -- the Alpha Male General Counsel brushing aside his female credit department Senior Director, in order to dismiss/bury vital issues, such as whether or not to obey the laws of the guild and the land in the face of union corruption.
Come to think of it, I wonder if Tony "EMAIL ME ONLY" Segall advises mere underlings, i.e., Sally Burmester, Carl Gottlieb, and even WGAw President, John Wells, what to wear to work each day, what wines to drink at movie openings, and where to park their off-the-books share of the credits-corruption slush fund. Why, the foreign levy -- syndication royalties for "The West Wing" alone has hit a billion plus: imagine how much of that tainted loot has been diverted to Who-knows-Who?
Oh, by the way, Ann -- did you happen to get the drift of Aaron Sorkin's self-incriminating, 1995 letter to Ms. Burmester (attached), written as justification for his theft of credit on American President AKA President Elopes (also see attached Castle Rock letters with same "American President" AKA "President Elopes" heading!) This series of correspondence is for your and everyone else's reading pleasure, as back then, most of the evidence was surely swept under the WGAw's dirty-little-secret-credits-rug.
Furthermore, Aaron-boy's incredulous, all-credit-be-mine-plea to the WGA -- after it was hidden from the "Pre Arbitration Committee" that took away our copyright heritage -- makes one ponder whether 'The Forked Tongue Kid" was either delusionalized on crack and lying at the time, or already hidden in Hazelden Rehab in Minn., where Castle Rock's VP lover-at-law-honchoette, Julia Bingham, Esq.-- FYI: Sorkin's girlfriend/later wife -- fib-pal, Rob Reiner, and cover-up lawyer, Richard Heller, had whisked away the druggie-credit-thief from the looming glare of public scrutiny at the bogus, guild "hearing".
Surely, in light of Sorkin's damning admission of direct access via Redford to the "President Elopes" storyline created by Bill Richert and me in 1982, it's truly vexing that Aaron's revealing letter to the WGA wasn't first vetted through Esq., Heller, who nevertheless denied and/or lied? that his client ever heard of our widowed President story; Heller also testified under oath that Sorkin never read any of the "President Elopes" drafts, and was recovering in the hospital -- "overworked" and "suffering" from exhaustion" after rewriting our script...renaming it "American President". Wonder how much exertion changing the name of a script takes out of an amoral screenwriter with an immoral heart?
We only got access to Sorkin's incriminating sole credit appeal to the WGA seven years after credits administrator Burmester received but never revealed the letter he wrote; or did she -- to her bosses!?
Well, did you read it and weep, Ann?, as an indignant Aaron whines that he didn't want to write someone else's story about "a widowed President with a young child in the White House, who is looking for love" -- no sir, says Sorkin: Mr. Redford, lissen up: me-me-and-all-for-me-Aaron wants to write me-me-own original screenplay about "a widowed President with a young child in the White House, who is looking for love." Sorkin himself says he took the idea producer/actor, Robert Redford, gave him and only then began to work on revising THE PRESIDENT ELOPES -- which thus obligated Aaron under WGA guidelines to give the original writers credit, even as he denies it!
But the WGA has strict, longstanding rules for such situations. This insider credits theft, however, was not at all the "special circumstance" that Sally Burmester fraudulently and misleadingly bannered to the world as the WGA's reason to 'levy' last-writer-in-Sorkin's sole writing credit on "American President".
Why didn't the WGAw credit administrators involved follow standard procedures in this infamous case? (might it be because they were Sorkin & Co. ringers)?
And how could any writer oppose them, anyway, not knowing who was deciding what or reading what screenplay from the near-dozen who re-wrote the original? As for defending writers: who in the local WGAw would dare intrude on their secret process to ask the WGA credits administrators to follow the laws and award the irreducible story-by credit to the real original creators of the only original screenplay -- President Elopes AKA American President, while S. Burmester, C. Reed, and Rob Reiner's conflict of interest writing partner/credits procedure mole, Carl Gottlieb, concealed/ orchestrated the insider scam to give it all up to an admitted, lying, crack-addicted dope fiend?
Ann...why, and for what purpose at this point in time and place, would you lower yourself and your hard-won professional credibility to allow the WGAe to be sucked into a possibly ongoing criminal enterprise perpetrated by Sorkin & his RICO-esque rogue's gallery of WGAw cohorts, including Wells, Burmester, Braverman, Reed, Walton, Gottleib, Reiner, Redford, Horn, Heller and mouthpiece Segall?
Besides the Sorkin letter to Burmester/WGA, the Castle Rock/Bingham memos, you may want to reflect upon attached AMERICAN SCHOLAR segment on the subject of Sorkin's "stepchild" written by AMERICAN PRESIDENT co-producer, Barbara Maltby, who worked the ten year development of President Elopes for Wildwood. 'Clearly' -- to quote Tony Segall -- the Burmester-Reed-Gottleib credits conspiracy willfully ignored this vital witness' declaration that Sorkin's screenplay is 'clearly' a President Elopes rewrite.
And if that's not enough to at least pique your interest in what may very well soon play out to be global exposure of one of the greatest acts of plagiarism-related grand larceny ever, see attached list of PRESIDENT ELOPES scripts presented by the WGAw...that purposely left out a key draft (entitled THE EXECUTIVE WING), which obviously (just read the first ten pages!) became Sorkin's stolen template for "The West Wing". Then go ask John Wells, Alan Horn, et al, about how this second Sorkin vulturism of the same "President Elopes" body of work benefited their personal and professional bottom lines. And while you're being given their standard WGAw run-around, you may also want to ask who else is either directly and/or by association guilty... I'll bet anything, including what's left of my sense of humor, it's all of the above individuals and corporate film entities -- and probably others, too -- and nobody at WGAw knows nuttin'.
Much more evidence to come... some only recently discovered ...that will negate the statute of limitations caveats, which I'm certain most of these mid-nineties credit culprits, known and unknown, are counting on not happening today, or ever -- sorry, all ye out there hiding in plain sight, we're not gonna give an inch this go-around!...not with what's now clearly known about what really happened.
So, in the name of honor and veracity, do the right thing, Ann. All the WGAE writers I've spoken to thus far would be most willing to hold an open credits council to determine the final results. Sounds a wee bit like democracy, doesn't it? --
Listen: in the umbra-hours of justice, when ghosts of writers write, the heartbeat of truth pounds on...
Begin forwarded message:
From: Kyle Morris <email@example.com>
Date: June 1, 2011 7:27:16 PM EDT
Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Stephen Schiff <email@example.com>, John Auerbach <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Tony Segall <email@example.com>, Lesley Mackey McCambridge <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Eric Hughes <Charliemonkey1@aol.com>, Bill Richert <email@example.com>
Subject: Fwd: American President AKA President Elopes
TO: Ann Burdick
Senior Legal Counsel/WGAE
Dear Ann -- I am forwarding this email chain to you, in hopes that, unlike your colleagues at the WGAW, you can and will be able to answer a rather simple, straightforward question:
"What are the appropriate/standard/usual practice WGA procedures -- if any!? -- to remedy an unlawful past arbitration, such as the infamous one in 1995 awarding Aaron Sorkin sole writing credit on "The American President", when newly discovered evidence conclusively proves that the entire credits arbitration procedure was corrupted by collusive acts of fraud?"
As you can see, neither Lesley Mackey McCambridge, Esq., Senior Director of Credits & Creative Rights, WGAW, nor Tony Segall, Esq./General Counsel, WGAW seem capable and/or willing to answer my query, which is not going away simply because they choose to ignore it, as well as all of the other questions I have asked, as is my right as a dues paying WGA member.
Now, I am asking you, as the Senior Legal Counsel WGAE, if there is such a remedy in any of the written or unwritten WGA Guild Rules to correct an egregious wrongdoing? And Ann, If you don't know the answer, please just say so...it's okay not to know, but it's not okay to not answer a legitimate member's query if you do know, as fiduciaries who use stonewalling tactics are usually hiding something.
Thus, per Mr. Segall's oddly speculative contention that there 'clearly is no new evidence', attached is a letter that WGAE member, Aaron Sorkin, while in the thick of a crack cocaine binge, and under the direction of his dual legal counsel, Richard Heller, Esq (of Frankfurt, Kurnit, Klein & Selz, PC) and Julia Bingham, Esq (Head of Castle Rock Business affairs and later Sorkin's wife) wrote to Sally Burmester, WGAW credits administrator; it speaks for itself from the self-serving perspective of an admitted crack cocaine addict/liar...and the attached is only one piece of newly discovered evidence falling into place.
Furthermore, I am also officially requesting that the venue for the investigation and first-time legal review of the fraudulent "pre arbitration" scandal be moved to the East Coast under WGAE jurisdiction, as John Wells, the current President of the WGAW has a glaringly direct and ongoing conflict of interest in this rapidly heating up "Cold Case" long-time credit dispute by himself being Sorkin's partner in 1999 (and earlier) as he and Sorkin planned the also contested West Wing TV series, which was conceived -- by Aaron Sorkin's own public admission -- during his 'research' of American President AKA President Elopes.
Looking forward to your timely response.
Attached email chain
Begin forwarded message:
From: "Tony Segall" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: May 23, 2011 2:06:39 PM EDT
To: "Kyle Morris" <email@example.com>
Subject: American President AKA President Elopes
Dear Mr. Morris:
I received your email. Clearly there is no new evidence. This matter will remain closed.
Anthony R. Segall
Writers Guild of America, West, Inc.
7000 W. Third St.
Los Angeles, CA 90048-4329
From: Kyle Morris [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Sun 5/22/2011 1:50 PM
To: Lesley Mackey McCambridge
Cc: John Auerbach; Stephen Schiff; Tony Segall
Subject: email chain...American President AKA President Elopes
Dear Lesley --
Were Alice a member of the WGAW ('W' for Wonderland?), she'd probably exclaim "how curious" to the circuitous way guild members, like me, must travel in a confounding roundabout tunnel of inner circles to get a few straight answers from union headquarter executives, like you, who are supposedly protecting membership interests in a fair, ethical manner; treating all writers equally...not just those with powerful hidden insider friends in high places.
At the very least, Lesley, I expected a forthright reply from you to my credits-related question; namely:
...What are the appropriate/standard/usual practice WGA procedures -- if any!? -- to remedy an unlawful past arbitration, such as the infamous one in 1995 awarding Aaron Sorkin sole writing credit on The American President , when newly discovered evidence conclusively proves the procedure was corrupted by collusive acts of fraud?
But instead of answering, you chose -- or were you ordered by union executives like David Young and John Wells? -- to deflect and re-direct my inquiry (and my civil rights) along the guild's hierarchal command chain to outside link, Tony Segall, the corporate counsel. Why, may I ask, did you send my rather straightforward "Emeritus Member" request to your heaviest, most expensive, lawyer-player-hitter? -- There's no national security issue at stake, here...or is there?
So, once again, and with all due respect, I ask you: is there a guild due process remedy procedure that would, as in civil court, override the time-related WGA Statue of Limitations and allow for opening a lawful writer's arbitration as opposed to the rigged pre-arbitration hearing that was orchestrated in tight-knit secrecy by the credits administration team of Sally Burmester, Kathy Reed, Carl Gottlieb, et al.
Lesley, as the WGAW Senior Director of Credits & Creative Rights, as you suggested, I would assume you are the guild expert/last word in credit matters. Are you not? And was it not you who advocated full disclosure by revealing your superior executive position over credits underling, Ms. Burmester? In short, why divert me (think illegal diversion by the WGAW of millions of dollars of stolen foreign royalties that should gone to American writers instead of the coffers of the unions and complicit studios) over to this Mr. Segall, who, curiouser and curiouser, and wrongly, has now requested I only communicate with him and no one else about this matter?
Furthermore, what matter, exactly, is the somewhat evasive, uber-counsel talking about, anyway?
How about the immediate, pressing, time-sensitive matter about not answering a simple question?
Mr. Segall, however, apparently wants me to tell him -- in secret, him only, nobody else, no other writers or credit committee members whose duty it is to know -- as is their ultimate responsibility, along with the guild president, executive director and Board of Directors -- who ALL need to see our newly discovered evidence.
And if by some miracle Mr. Segall is clueless re: what really happened back in the credit-stealing back rooms of WGAW in 1995, perhaps he, as well as you, should go ask your superior, current WGAW President, John Wells, who was back then, and still is now, fellow member, Aaron Cut-&-Paste Sorkin's business partner, as well as the producer of the "West Wing", which even the American Plagiarist and self-described lying crackhead himself has admitted was born of his so-called 'research' on American President AKA President Elopes.
Then again, going to the top WGAW honcho(s) for truth, justice, and The American Way, reminds one of "Absolute Power", "Patriot Games...": there's been a long, honorable tradition of original screenplays written about such Presidential dishonor...
Hey, Lesley, how about a star-studded, high concept for a reality-show-feature-film like the "Social Network", which William Richert and I are developing right now in real time -- even as you are rolling your eyes reading this. Not to give away the key story elements, especially if Sorkin is still out there truffle-pigging around for another original idea he can claim as his own, we're thinking of actually casting the real culprits in our caper film about a breathlessly blatant theft of a movie and TV series spinoff.
And in case you're not a SAG member, we can aways Taft-Hartley you. Anyway, this time around, Mr. Richert and I, will make damn sure you and the guild will actually follow your own rules, and at the same time not oppose shedding fresh light on the 1995 circumstances that denied us our rightful screen credits, career opportunities, and filmmaking dreams -- not to mention royalties and residuals vis-a-vis "The American President" AKA "The President Elopes" AKA "The Executive Wing" AKA " The West Wing."
Roll Credits: The incestuous Castle Rock crowd -- Rob Reiner -- Director of defending Sorkin's lies; Castle Rock President, Alan Horn, who knowingly leaves the company with a hot, stolen TV series concept to take the helm of Warner Brothers Pictures -- a major beneficiary of the "West Wing"; Screenwriter, A. Sorkin, who thinks other peoples' screenplays are like court transcripts he feels entitled and coddled enough to cherry-pick i.e., plagiarize at will; Head of Castle Rock Business Affairs, Julia Bingham, Esq., who at the time of the contested "American President" AKA "President Elopes" credit arbitration was having an under-the-covers-affair with Snortin' Sorkin, while also screwing around with Bill and I, but in a far less pleasurable way.
Then there's Hollywood golden boy, Sundance Kid, Robert Redford, whose company, Wildwood had been developing "The President Elopes" for years before Bob/God ditched us and The Truth like one of Sorkin's hookers in the night when he, Aaron, and Meathead-Reiner had a 'creative falling out' three months before principal photography was about to begin on Sorkin's drug-fueled rewrite of "The President Elopes" AKA "The American President". Redford, obviously irked, walked away from the once romantic comedy by taking a concealed $5mm payback as compensation for his decade-year-long development of "The President Elopes". But what Bob also walked away from -- and is still is ducking to this day -- was his moral and ethical duty to defend the rightful recognition of the writers of the original screenplay.
You see, Lesley, there never was another original screenplay by Aaron Sorkin that merged with ours, as all of the above culprits, and many others, too, all were aware of. There was only "The President Elopes". And now, at last, we have in lurid, detail how the credit-cards got stacked/shuffled against us.
Come to think about it, maybe Alice's Wonderland is the wrong template, as it implies you could be the Queen when Mr. Segall is maybe actually the Queen, or even John Wells, making Alice an unsuitable example. Perhaps I should think of a different fairy tale, or -- who knows? Maybe our new reality show will take its place; is there such a thing as a non-fiction fairy tale under WGA jurisdiction? Hmmm, perhaps that's an idea worth registering with the WGA -- in order to protect it from being stolen by its own 'inner circle club'', who then hire themselves to steal all the benefits for themselves...
Nah...nobody would believe a fairy tale like that!
Looking forward to your response to my non-fiction questions in search of real answers --
Kyle Morris, Member Emeritus,
"In Good Standing Since 1982"
Begin forwarded message:
From: "Tony Segall" <email@example.com>
Date: May 10, 2011 4:28:31 PM EDT
Subject: American President
Dear Mr. Morris:
Lesley Mackey McCambridge forwarded to me the e-mail chain below.
Your description of the disposition of the New York litigation, which concluded in 2002, is inaccurate in some respects. Be that as it may, you apparently contend that you now have "new evidence" that bears in some way to the credit determination for American President. I cannot tell from reading your messages below what that evidence is. If you wish to tell me, you may do so by return email.
Please direct all of your communications to the Guild about this matter to me.
Anthony R. Segall
Writers Guild of America, West, Inc.
7000 W. Third St.
Los Angeles, CA 90048-4329
From: Kyle Morris [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, May 04, 2011 5:36 PM
To: Lesley Mackey McCambridge
Cc: Stephen Schiff; John Auerbach
Subject: Re: Credit Arbitration query
Dear Lesley -- Thank you for your offer of advice/info/assistance, & and for the full disclosure that you are now Sally Burmester's direct supervisor. I also am now aware via your credits description that you are an attorney, and therefore well versed in union rules and legal matters, such as:
Under Title V, union representatives are obligated to manage union business for the sole benefit of the members. Individuals who violate their fiduciary duty may be sued in federal court.
In full disclosure, I sued Sally Burmester and the WGA in Federal Court in 2002, along with my collaborator, William Richert, over an infamously contentious 1995 credit dispute in which Aaron Sorkin received sole writing credit on the "American President". This later sequed into Sorkin's sole credit-by credit re: "The West Wing" series.
The judge dismissed our copyright lawsuit on the technicality that we had not proved any misfeasance on the part of the Guild's arbitration process, and Tony Segall, who represented Sally and the WGA, was adamant about the Statue of Limitations and the fact that a person like Sally in her job description was not basically sue-able under federal laws regarding union employees.
However, the Judge did tell us that if we ever discovered any new evidence of union corruption, we could refile the case. He notably and significantly, since we were up against some of the biggest legal guns Hollywood could trigger, dismissed our lawsuit "without prejudice," allowing us to do just that. In a separate note, he even advised us on how to do this in the future. That time has come.
From Ferguson v. Writers Guild of America, West:
The scope of judicial review in a particular case, then, is limited to a determination whether there has been a material breach of the terms of the credits manual, which binds the Writers Guild as well as its members
A MATERIAL BREACH IN GUILD LAWS IN 1995 HAS BEEN FOUND AND DOCUMENTED AS OF THIS YEAR.
Furthermore, in contravention of WGA policies, Burmester refused even to list any of her selected judges at the 'pre arbitration special circumstances' hearing on her memos, most significantly leaving out the name of credit arbitrator Carl Gottlieb, a business partner of Rob Reiner -- founder of defendant Castle Rock Pictures, et al.
When Cathy Reed wrote to us that Guild procedures had "worked," she did not disclose that Guild procedures were not followed, and she did not say "why" and "who" benefited "when" or "what" had been deliberately ignored under the aegis and direction of Credits Administrator, Sally Burmester.
My question: is there a mechanism in the WGA credits procedure allowing for an arbitration for credit if such an arbitration is required, but denied for fraudulent reasons?
Surely the Guild can't allow or condone an illegal arbitration process giving the wrong writer credit and resulting accolades and monetary reward for the wrong reasons, to stand when the evidence demands a genuine arbitration, not a corruption of the entire arbitration process itself, where rightful lawfully-required arbitration is denied.
The courts keep saying the WGA and union arbitrations cannot be overturned, but they were not aware no arbitration ever took place. Nor were the courts aware of the intimate, collusive connections between union executives/members and studio executives, all of whom benefited and continue to get richer at my and Richert's expense.
I was particularly incensed, to use his words, when Sorkin recently and very publically called me and my collaborator "hacks" and soon-after suggested in a writers' panel discussion that the "irreducible writer's credit" was illegal -- when in fact it is the primary basis for the entire existence of the Writer's Guild dating back to its foundation.
Lesley, I hope it's in your job description to fight for the rights of writers no matter when they were wronged, especially to see that they get rightful credit under the law.
THEREFORE, AS A MEMBER, I ASK THAT YOU READ ME MY RIGHTS:
Can we request a hearing by the full Credits Committee where we can present our recently discovered evidence?
Is there any provision for revision of equitable tolling/ fraud within the WGA as there is in civil/criminal courts?
If you are Burmester's today superior, who was her supervisor in 1995? Did she report to the Executive Director like David Young, or to the President, like John Wells?
How can a member obtain access to his/her arbitration file?
Do members of the WGA have the same overall rights as all other union members of sister unions of the AFL-CIO?
Members who wish to sue union officials for violation of the fiduciary duty provisions must first request that the union itself take action. If the union does not take action within a reasonable period of time, the members may request permission of the court to sue.
Thus, we request the WGA "take action" to exhaust all remedies within the guild, and within your purview, as you are the writers' direct representative in credit issues.
Thanks for your kind and prompt reply,
member since 1982
On Apr 22, 2011, at 2:23 PM, Lesley Mackey McCambridge wrote:
Dear Mr. Morris:
I would be more than happy to speak to you and offer what advice, information, and assistance that I can. By way of full disclosure, please note that I am Sally's direct supervisor, though I may not have been at the time of your arbitration (I've been head of Credits since 2006).
You are correct, however, that there may be time problems with respect to the ability to pursue a remedy, even if the pertinent information only recently came to light. If the issue is with a signatory company, our statute of limitations within which to file a claim expires four years after the event giving rise to the claim. If the issue is with Guild staff and the duty of fair representation, I believe (but am not certain) that the statute of limitations is six months after the event giving rise to the claim.
Feel free to either give me a call at 323/782-4528 or send me an email at your convenience.
Lesley Mackey McCambridge, Esq.
Senior Director of Credits & Creative Rights
Writers Guild of America, West, Inc.
From: Kyle Morris [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Friday, April 22, 2011 11:18 AM
To: Lesley Mackey McCambridge
Cc: Stephen Schiff; John Auerbach
Subject: Fwd: Credit Arbitration query
Dear Lesley -- Per e-mails below (read in sequence from bottom up), I have been directed to you for expert guidance by Stephen Schiff, co-chairman of the WGA Credits Committee.
Mr. Shchiff directed me to your office after WGAE member John Auerback directed me to him.
Apparently the credits committees on both coasts think you are the "go to" person at the Guild to help a member right a grievous wrong, even one that happened years ago.
As you see from my correspondence with the credits committee, stunning new information has come to the surface showing a fraud in an arbitration I was involved with. I know there are time limitations in the Guild MBA cncerning overturning or appealing a decision, but there is no mention of what you might call a "cold case" discovery of fraud.
Thus, in light of newly discovered documents/testimony now in hand, please send at your earliest convenience by return email a list of "all the available remedies" afforded to Guild members who wish to present factual evidence of a fraudulent credits arbitration, in order to overturn it.
So that you know where we stand so far, I'm sending along the emails which led me to you as the person who can help.
WGAe since 1982
Begin forwarded message:
From: Stephen Schiff <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: April 20, 2011 6:20:34 PM EDT
To: Kyle Morris <email@example.com>
Cc: John Auerbach <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Credit Arbitration query
John Wells doesn't strike me as a likely avenue for you. Try Lesley Mackey McCambridge. She will at least know what all the available remedies are. Good luck.
On 4/20/2011 5:57 PM, Kyle Morris wrote:
Hi Stephen -- thank you for the prompt response.
As per your suggestion to contact Sally Burmester/Lesley Mackey McCambridge, I'm somewhat vexed, for as WGAW employees, I don't believe they have executive authority to address serious legal/procedural issues, such as those mentioned in my last email. And if I'm not mistaken, Ms Burmester administrated the decision that stripped me of my credit...no sense approaching those who may have been party to a fraud for its remedy.
What about current WGAW President/John Wells, who was a Guild Board Member, as well as also possibly on the Credits Committee (maybe even a co-chairman such as yourself) at the time?
Awaiting once more your much appreciated guidance... Kyle Morris
On Apr 20, 2011, at 12:46 AM, Stephen Schiff wrote:
Dear Kyle Morris,
No, the rules are the same for both guilds. If your arbitration was done at the WGAW, I suggest you contact their credits staff - either Sally Burmester or Lesley Mackey McCambridge - and find out whether any further remedies are available to you.
On 4/19/2011 1:11 AM, Kyle Morris wrote:
Dear Stephen Schiff,
Our mutual friend and colleague, John Auerbach, suggested you might be the right man to ask about what guild procedures are available in order for members to redress wrongful acts within the credit system, as happened to me over a decade ago during a credit arbitration process I have only recently discovered (via a highly credible WGAW source) was corrupted by improper procedure, false testimony, suppression of key evidence by union trustees, insider conflicts of interest, et al.
The question: Is there a formal procedure I must follow to request/demand a guild hearing to present documents/testimony/evidence that might lead to the reexamination and reversal of a fraudulent credit arbitration, in which the rightful credits of me and my writing partner were willfully and wrongfully denied us as the first screenwriters of an original script that eventually became both a major motion picture and later a hugely successful television series derived from the same project?
Also, are there different credit arbitration/remedy rules for WGAw and WGAe members?
Many thanks for your reply...
WGAE member since 1982
Grand Theft President: Richert on Sorkin, ‘President’, ‘Wing’ Grand Theft President
The Internet Trial of Aaron Sorkin
By William Richert
On January 13, 1995, I received a rejection letter from Julia Bingham, Vice President of Legal affairs for Castle Rock Pictures.
The letter was re: ‘THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT AKA THE PRESIDENT ELOPES’. In it, Ms. Bingham wrote that “the two leading members of the cast of the picture have exercised the ‘Rejection Right’ as defined therein and that Castle Rock, as ABC’s successor-in-interest, has engaged Rob Reiner as the director of the Picture. [see "Letters" on web link to view document]
By “the two leading members of the cast” she was referring to Robert Redford and Emma Thompson, who were the stars of the film in 1994, as had been reported in VARIETY.
Ms. Bingham wasn’t providing new information, I knew like everybody else that Rob Reiner was directing the screenplay the letter was about, that is, the most recent draft of my original script, THE PRESIDENT ELOPES, which was being re-written by Aaron Sorkin.
The point of the letter was that Castle Rock was going to send me a check for $50,000 and give me, should the picture be produced, an amount equal to 2% of the net profits of the film, if any.
This money was to be paid to me as part of my original Director’s contract with ABC, which included the right to direct my script unless the stars objected, with the main star being Robert Redford, who was also the producer. If the star objected, I got fifty grand for being bumped, which is not a bad deal. I still got 400 grand for the script in any case, when the screenplay was produced.
However, a short while later Julia wrote me another letter, saying OOPS, another studio had already given me the fifty grand for the bump. In fact Redford/Universal paid me the fifty grand back in the mid-Eighties for removing myself as director of the film when I needed to go to Chicago to direct JIMMY REARDON.
Unmentioned in this January 1995 letter from Castle Rock lawyer Julia Bingham was that she was currently having a heated affair with Aaron Sorkin, who was spending part of each day in his hotel room at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills doing the re-write (mornings) and part of his day holed up in a corner smoking crack cocaine (afternoons and evenings.)
Julia also forgot to say that while Aaron was stacking up his 385-page first draft, she and director Rob Reiner were frantically trying to find a detox hospital for their writer.
In her letter, Julia might also have mentioned that Aaron was lying to his friends and associates about his activities.
Robert Redford, co-producer with Rob Reiner of the film as well as the star and developer of the screenplay, had given Sorkin the early drafts of the my screenplays and others of THE PRESIDENT ELOPES to see what worked and what didn’t.
There was no reason for Julia to mention in her letter that Aaron was using these scripts as source material not only for THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT, but for the television series he later said arose from it, THE WEST WING.
Julia Bingham, lawyer for Castle Rock and soon-to-be-bride of Aaron Sorkin, and Rob Reiner, who was the director as well as Redford’s partner, eventually found a haven for their writer at the Hazelden Institute in Minnesota.
It was while he was in drug rehab at Hazelden that Aaron Sorkin wrote an extraordinary letter to Sally Burmester of the WGA in August, 1995 (his lawyer Richard Heller testified that he could not attend the WGA arbitration proceedings that summer because of “work exhaustion. Heller also testified that Sorkin had no access to my scripts until the WGA arbitration proceedings.) [read Sorkin’s extraordinary letter, which just surfaced in 2003, on the website in its entirety]
In this letter, which was written on his Manhattan letterhead, Aaron Sorkin describes how he heard Robert Redford’s story of THE PRESIDENT ELOPES and later took William Richert’s idea of a widowed President and wrote his own screenplay from it for director Rob Reiner, during very same time that Reiner was directing THE PRESIDENT ELOPES. (This is a physical law-breaker, having two things occupy the same space; but Sorkin says he pulled it off.)
In his drug addled state Aaron must have thought was proffering pertinent facts as to why the WGA Rules should be broken and my early co-writer and I should be denied credit. Actually, his letter provides damning and irrefutable evidence for my case. In lawful fact, the entire basis of the WGA credit arbitration is to make sure that all writers receive credit, especially the first one, the one who provides the original concept and story, from which all else follows.
No wonder Richard Heller ignored the existence of this letter when he met with the WGA. The letter undermined his case in its entirety. No arbitrator, following the Rules of Arbitration, could deny that the Guild’s “irreducible credit” for First Writer should apply. It is doubtful that Sorkin’s lawyer saw the letter before Sorkin mailed it.
Sally Burmester at the WGA did more than ignore the letter. In so doing, Sally broke the WGA rules in her conduct of the arbitration. Maybe she was getting advice from John Wells, the producer of THE WEST WING who was also a friend of Aaron Sorkin’s – as well as Secretary Treasurer and soon-to-be President of the WGA. Maybe she was getting advice from her immediate superior, Brian Walton, later fired by the guild for studio collaboration.
During the intense period of New York Times scrutiny and Variety scrutiny, WGA Executive Director Brian Walton was confronted by a union member quoting Daily Variety about Richert’s probable lawsuit against the WGA. Brian Walton visibly kicked the president under the table and the two leave the stage.
In addition to evidence hitherto unavailable, there recently surfaced the title page to the screenplay Aaron Sorkin submitted to the WGA Arbitration Board. Under the title, clearly visible [first 20 pages posted on my website] one can see the list of dates that Aaron Sorkin worked on THE AMERICAN PRESIDNET (AKA THE PRESIDENT ELOPES.)
The dates of Sorkin’s revisions start in 1994 and continue until early 1995. DURING THIS PERIOD ROBERT REDFORD WAS PRODUCING AND ROB REINER WAS DIRECTING AARON SORKIN’S REVISION OF ‘THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT.’ THERE WAS NO OTHER SCREENPLAY. ROB REINER WAS NOT DIRECTING TWO DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF A PRESIDENT MOVIE AND ROBERT REDFORD WAS NOT STARRING IN TWO DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF A PRESIDENT MOVIE. THEY WERE ONE AND THE SAME, AND EVEN CASTLE ROCK VIEWED THEM AS SUCH.
Yet Aaron Sorkin got the credit based on a letter from rehab without any back-up documentation or basis in truth.
Later on, in the press, Sorkin admits to lying, admits to drug abuse, gets arrested, wins Emmies for THE WEST WING. He writes 73 out of 75 episodes of the series. More than one writer accuses him of misappropriating their credit.
Then again, Sorkin claims he was under “tremendous pressure” during the time he was writing his version of my script. I know what that is like. I wrote several drafts myself of the full length screenplays in less than a week, working in New York with Redford in early 90’s. I bet I would even have been faster if I had fourteen other “employed writers” along with the million dollar research staff NBC and John Wells provided for Sorkin. With backup like that, I coulda wailed, man.
Barbara Maltby was the co-producer on my screenplay and all the re-writes starting from 1984, as well as its successor THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT. In her 1995 article for THE AMERICAN SCHOLAR she writes that she never heard of any other script but mine all during the time of Sorkin’s pre-production revisions. It was always the same project, starting with Disney in 1981, continuing to the time when Redford was producing and starring with Rob Reiner directing and then on through the new casting of Michael Douglas and Annette Bening until the film opened in Westwood.
But when Redford quit the project, and Michael Douglas took his place, it was Rob Reiner who continued on – with the very same screenplay Sorkin had been working on since 1994, in other words, my screenplay.
Sorkin lied and Redford got Five Million from Castle Rock for his copyright of my screenplays. Redford knows perfectly well today, as he knew then, that Aaron Sorkin lied to the WGA. However, five million buys a lot of forgetfulness. Besides, it was left to the WGA to decide the final credits, and the WGA decided in favor of Aaron Sorkin. Was it Robert Redford’s responsibility to stand up before the WGA committee and tell them that the two scripts were one and the same? Maybe not.
Should Redford have sold the copyright to THE PRESIDENT ELOPES to Castle Rock knowing that Castle Rock/Julia Bingham/Rob Reiner would wrongfully claim Aaron Sorkin originated the project separately, thus cutting me out of credit and earnings? That does not seem fair. [see my contract with Universal and Redford’s Wildwood from 1991]
It was certainly the responsibility of Julia Bingham and Rob Reiner and Alan Horn of Castle Rock to see that the true credit was applied to the rightful owner, as they knew it to be. Instead Castle Rock/Julia Bingham demanded that the WGA award Sorkin sole writing credit, even while giving credit to Wildwood (Redford’s wholly-owned production company) as co-producer of the film.
It was certainly the responsibility of the WGA to examine evidence and conduct a fair trial based on a fair reading of all of the drafts, not just the ones Sally Burmester chose with made-up rules.
As Sally Burmester “sequenced” the scripts, her committee never saw my 1991 version called “THE EXECUTIVE WING”. This was the script that Aaron Sorkin refered to when he stated that he got the idea for the series from “bits and pieces” of his writings on THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT. No doubt he felt it was safe for him to admit that he took the television series from the film, since the same players remained involved – except for Redford, whose five million payoff was deemed sufficient.
Alan Horn, now President of Warner Brothers where John Wells has his production company with THE WEST WING as its signature, certainly was aware that Aaron Sorkin was saying his series originated in THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT, but, generous as always, he chooses to forgo the profits he deserves. Today he is content that his studio owns the series, along with former WGA President, John Wells.
Not long ago, Aaron Sorkin deserted THE WEST WING as Commander of the Commander-In-Chief. He leaves behind a White House in the hands of John Wells and John Goodman. If some of the long time fans feel abandoned, it is because they have been. But not by the real and true Creator of “The West Wing.” I remain steadfast in pursuit of the rightful character of the fictional President I originated. He was as different from the President of NBC’s series as I am different from the slick and thieving Aaron Sorkin.
The outcome of this Internet Trial of Aaron Sorkin is yet to be determined. My case against Sorkin has been included in the new complaint against the WGA which has been filed in the U.S. District Court by Neville Johnson, Brian Rishwain and James T. Ryan of Johnson & Rishwain LLP. I am hoping to be a “friend of the court.” Soon I will place new evidence, along with screenplays and other exhibits, on here my website at williamrichert.com.