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Aaron Sorkin and Todd Phillips rip into the Writers Guild

At a roundtable interview for screenwriters held by The Hollywood Reporter, Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) and Todd Phillips (Due Date) both spent considerable time candidly detailing their complaints with the Writers Guild of America. The topic first came up after Phillips explained that, “if the Writers Guild was not such an obnoxious organization,” Robert Downey Jr. would have received a writing credit for Due Date. When prodded further on the issue, Phillips said, “We, as writers, have agents who should be negotiating our deal. If we want three cents more on our DVDs…let my agent figure that part out.”

Then Sorkin jumped in. “I am a union guy,” he presaged. “My grandfather was one of the founders of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union … But a union makes sense when people have more power as a group than they do as individuals. I have considerably more power as an individual than I do as a member of that group.” Sorkin also criticized the WGA’s practice of giving the first writer on a film “an irreducible story credit” regardless of whether that writer’s work appears in the finished film. “The Writers Guild is very happy to give the impression that a movie was written by five different people,” said Sorkin. “Which ultimately gives the impression that the director was the author of the movie, because they see one name at the end.” Making things perhaps more awkward: WGA West president and The West Wing exec. producer John Wells (The Company Men) was seated across from Phillips, and right next to Sorkin.

Originally posted November 11 2010 — 5:40 PM EST

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