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Writers Guild of America, West elects Chris Keyser as president

September 16, 2011 |  4:25 pm

Chris Keyser Chris Keyser, co-creator of the Fox television series "Party of Five," defeated the better known Patric Verrone in the closely watched presidential contest for the Writers Guild of America, West.

"I want to congratulate Patric in what I thought was an excellent race and I look forward to getting started," Keyser said Friday evening.

Keyser campaigned as a moderate alternative to Verrone and had won the backing of most of the union's high-profile members, including outgoing President John Wells, Susannah Grant and Shawn Ryan, creator of the TV series "The Shield."  

Verrone, who vowed to restore the guild's tradition of union activism and had criticized Keyser's approach to negotiations, also had some big names in his camp, including Matthew Weiner, executive producer of the AMC TV show "Mad Men." But the animation writer had lost the backing of others who had previously been his allies, such as veteran screenwriter Robert King.

Although he retained strong support among former strike captains and rank-and-file members, Keyser and his supporters depicted Verrone as a polarizing figure who had frayed relationships with other unions, mounted an ineffective campaign to organize workers in the reality TV sector and was overly confrontational in his stance with employers.

Patric VerroneKeyser said he would place more emphasis on enforcing the guild's contracts, addressing such problems  as writers not being paid on time or having to write scripts for free. Keyser has written for movies and TV, worked as a freelancer and executive producer, including on "Party of Five," which ran on Fox for six seasons and "Lone Star," the acclaimed TV series that ran only eight days before it was canceled.

The Harvard Law School graduate was a relative unknown inside the guild until the election. He was elected to the board in 2010 and has served for several years as a trustee of the union's pension and health plan.

Also Friday, members the Writers Guild of America, East reelected Michael Winship, who ran unopposed.

[Updated at 5:14 p.m.: Keyser won 1,221 votes, or 60% of the ballots, compared with nearly 40% for Verrone, according to a statement from the guild. In other results, Carl Gottlieb was elected secretary-treasurer, defeating Verrone ally David Weiss, and Howard Rodman was elected vice president, defeating John Aboud. Elected to the guild's board of directors were: Billy Ray, David S. Goyer, Dan Wilcox, Linda Burstyn, Carleton Eastlake, Thania St. John, Ian Deitchman and Alfred Barrios Jr.]

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Bid to lead writers guild casts spotlight on Chris Keyser

WGA, West President John Wells won't run again

Writers, Hollywood studios reach contract agreement

-- Richard Verrier

Photos: Chris Keyser, newly elected president of the Writers Guild of Amierca, West (top). Credit: Courtesy of Chris Keyser. Keyser defeated Patric M. Verrone, former president of the Writers Guild of America, West (right). Credit: Los Angeles Times.

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