Sparks flew at a WGA-ATA meeting while negotiations were going on in crater – Variety



The room at the Beverly Hilton was booked until midnight. Friday afternoon, it took only about an hour for the contract negotiations to break out and the war broke out between the Writers Guild of America and the biggest Hollywood agencies.

UTA Co-Chair Jay Sures and Bryan Lourd of CAA had a tough discussion with WGA West Executive Director David Young at Friday's meeting as WGA representatives had rejected many of the proposals submitted by the ATA on Wednesday night with the aim of reaching an agreement. The WGA plans to take legal action against the agencies for alleged conflict and breach of fiduciary duty.

On Friday, the guild kept its promise to implement a new code of conduct for agencies, which prohibits agents representing WGA members from collecting packaging fees and working with affiliated production entities. an agency, among other changes. The WGA and the Association of Talent Agents have been trying to develop a new franchise agreement since February, but the parties are focusing on the packaging, production and scope of the WGA's ability to regulate agencies representing their members. . The WGA has asked members to end their commercial ties with agents who do not sign the code of conduct agreement starting midnight French time on Friday.

After the WGA announced the implementation of the code, a six-day deferral last week as the parties struggled to negotiate an agreement, many talented agents said they received a flood of letters of termination from the part of their customers.

The most important action on the part of the ATA was the offer to return a small portion of its product from the packaging fee to the guild for distribution among the lowest paid members of the the television show. The WGA negotiators rejected the offer, saying it still did not settle the issue of conflicts of interest in the packaging. "This is not a serious proposal and we reject it," WGA West President David Goodman said Friday in a statement.

Sures, Young, and Goodman have been through a period of tension when WGA representatives repeatedly expressed the view that agents were no longer motivated to fight for high salaries for middle and lower editors because they were encouraged to protect packaging costs paid by producers. According to sources, Goodman, a UTA client, directly asked at one point that he thought his representatives did not fight for him.

Similarly, CAA's Lourd did not hold back his exasperation when Young mentioned the cost of packaging as a criminal offense of agents with fiduciary responsibility to their clients. Heavy replied that the guild's rhetoric was dangerous and that it was spreading misinformation as part of its campaign to engage its 15,000 members on the agency's franchise problem.

The guild also asked the agencies to give up all their work contracts and process the information for writing clients. Sures noted that several customers told UTA that they did not want this information to be disclosed. ATA suggested that the WGA subordinate the disclosure of contracts to membership in a guild, in order to relieve each representative of his responsibilities. The WGA responded that the agencies refused to accept the authority of the guild to monitor the economic problems of its members. During Friday's discussion, Sures, frustrated, asked the WGA representatives why such a compromise should be "so difficult".

Negotiating teams had reserved a Beverly Hilton meeting room until midnight Friday, but the meeting started at 3 pm. PT was finished shortly after 16 hours. Half an hour later, the WGA announced in an email to members that the code of conduct would come into effect from 12:01 pm Saturday.

The WGA requires members to use a specially created DocuSign link to send formal termination letters to agents. Members are requested to send these signed documents directly to the guild, which will mass-mail them to the few agencies in a matter of days, according to the WGA FAQ released on Friday.

It is unclear how strongly the WGA intends to mandate members to terminate their agents. It is also unclear how the union line talents who work as directors, producers and actors deal with the issue of agency representation for work outside the scope of the work. writing. The guild encourages members to cut ties in all areas in order to show maximum solidarity. Industry observers will closely monitor next week to see if little or no business is being conducted by agents.

WGA has draft lawsuit ready to be filed against ATA member companies, confirmed Young Variety last week. ATA should file a counter-suit. ATA had previously stated that it would not negotiate with the WGA if the code of conduct was in effect.

The agencies have predicted that regular business would be disrupted if the WGA forces layoffs. The WGA has assembled a database designed to help editors find open staff assignments and help viewers search for potential writers. Great writers have been busy in recent days building internal networks via e-mail and social media to facilitate the screening and matchmaking process that is usually handled by agents.


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