Jane Nefeldt, Former WGA West Exec, Dies at 71

Jane Nefeldt, a 35-year veteran with the Writers Guild of American West, has died. She was 71.

The WGA West said she died April 16 in Hermosa Beach, California. No cause of death was specified.

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Nefeldt joined the guild in 1972 in the operations department, rose to the position of assistant executive director in 1986 and became senior executive in 1998. She retired from the WGA West in 2007 after being involved in six contract negotiation cycles between the guild and Hollywood studios and TV networks.

During that period, the WGA West negotiated contracts for content distribution platforms like basic cable and home video, agreements that later underpinned bargaining over new media and other emerging digital platforms.

“Jane was a common sense professional who had an encyclopedic knowledge of the guild contract. She educated two generations of guild advocates. She was a zealous representative for Hollywood writers, who have collectively earned millions more dollars because of her decades of efforts. I benefitted greatly from working with her and knowing her,” WGAW assistant executive director Chuck Slocum said in a statement.

She was born on Sept. 24, 1952, in Park Forest, outside Chicago, to her parents Orel and Ellen Haukedhal.

Former WGA West assistant executive director Ann Widdifield also paid tribute to Nefeldt, whom she first met in 1979 on her first day with the guild.

“She mentored me and taught me the ropes,” Widdifield said. “We hit it off immediately and stayed close friends and work colleagues over four decades. At the guild, she was always one of the smartest people in the room. Staff, writers and even company representatives relied on her expertise in interpretation of the guild’s contract. Writers owe a large debt of gratitude for the innumerable ways she enriched their livelihoods. I will miss Jane dearly as my friend who made my life full of joy.”

Nefeldt is survived by Denny, her husband of 40 years. Memorial services have not yet been announced.

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