Guilds want assurances for stamping CAA-CL link

The three major Hollywood guilds are not expected to contest Creative Artists Agency’s advisory role with Credit Lyonnais,as long as the talent agency provides them certain assurances, sources said Tuesday.

Announcement of an agreement is expected by Thursday, after several discussions between CAA chairman Michael Ovitz and heads of the directors, writers and actors unions.

Ovitz refused comment on the continuing discussions.

Among some of the assurances sought by the guilds: Commitments to protect and enhance guild members’ employment opportunities; determination of how directors, writers and actors are hired by CAA and how their projects will be promoted; additional protections beyond the basic union agreements regarding clauses pertaining to talent agencies.

Yet sources said that all the pieces were not in place and that guild negotiators haven’t advised all of their governing boards.

Although the most outspoken critic of the CAA-Credit Lyonnais arrangement, ICM chairman Jeff Berg, declined comment Tuesday, sources close to his agency said he will continue to press for a full review by the U.S. Justice Dept. and the Federal Trade Commission.

Berg contends that CAA’s new relationship with the French bank constitutes a violation of antitrust laws, posing a potential restraint of trade.

At the core of the guilds’ and Berg’s concerns is how MGM, a studio owned by the bank, is affected in this CAA/CL scenario.

CAA reportedly is counseling CL against the breakup or sell-off of MGM, sources told Daily Variety. Instead, it favors a major capital infusion by the lender (Daily Variety, April 20).

CAA’s strategy also calls for spinning off UA and its 1,100-title library (which includes the “James Bond,””Rocky” and “Pink Panther” movies) into a separate production entity in raising outside funding, probably from overseas. The UA spinoff may involve a group of investors.

Financial backing

Additionally, CAA’s strategy calls for pooling entities to finance MGM films. CL has been the sole financial backer of MGM Prods. since 1991.

“This whole thing has turned out to be an ecological issue,” noted one source. “It’s called save the lion.”

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