By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
I’m told that nearly all of Leno’s writers at the meeting, as well as WGA executive director Dave Young, and even Verrone, gave testimony — under oath — to this. Leno, too, maintained throughout the investigation that “they [guild officials] really told me I could do my monologue.” Leno also denied working with scabs. He told the trial committee that he “went through 17 years of material and rewrote that.” Leno testified, “in a business as transparent as this, you can’t get away with anything.”
According to the report, it was only after protests from furious WGA members that Verrone told Leno to stop penning his own material. Leno was described as “stunned” by Verrone’s reversal. A week later, Young called Leno to warn him again to stop writing, and claimed the AFTRA clause did not apply to Leno. As a result, Leno replied that he “might have to resign” from the WGA, the report said. But the trial committee disagreed with the WGAw’s interpretation and decided it did indeed cover Leno. “The wording of the exception seems quite clear to us,” the report states.
Even more damning, the report found that Verrone did not keep the promise he made in the presence of Big Media CEOs Peter Chernin of News Corp/Fox and Bob Iger of Disney — who were negotiating to end the strike with the WGA bigwigs, as well as the AMPTP negotiator Carol Lombardini — that Leno would not be brought up on WGAw charges. Verrone told the trial committee that he never communicated that discussion to the WGAw board or the strike-rules committee.
The trial committee cited the public apology as the only way to solve the “adverse stigma” which followed Leno. “We know there was no ill intent on anyone’s part in this dispute but feel Mr. Leno’s reputation and solid service as a loyal union member have been damaged in the eyes of many not knowing the facts as we do.”
So the WGAw cleared Leno. Like it or not, that chapter of the strike story is now closed. And writers should get over it already. But what WGA members should not put behind them is their guild’s cover-up of its Leno-related screwups in the face of this month’s election. As someone who has urged Hollywood unions to practice transparency, I believe withholding this trial report should not be tolerated.
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