ATA looking to compete with unregulated personal managers

Talent agents urged a key Screen Actors Guild panel Monday to salvage the agents’ troubled 3-week-old agreement with the union.

“We have the opportunity to improve the prospects for both actors and agents through our cooperative efforts,” said Karen Stuart, executive director of the Assn. of Talent Agents, in a letter to SAG’s national executive committee. “ATA hopes that this opportunity is not discarded by SAG.”

The agreement, which would give agents enhanced powers in exchange for expanded protections for actors, will be considered today by the panel. SAG president William Daniels, insisting the deal is not completed because two items were left open for negotiation by SAG’s national board, has promised he will introduce a motion seeking a referendum on which all 97,000 SAG members will be eligible to vote.

Until Monday, Stuart had limited her response to insisting that the deal was completed Feb. 16 once ATA accepted all 25 proposals. In her letter, she noted that agents had bargained over the past year with the understanding that no referendum would be required and pointed out that ATA would have expanded the scope of bargaining had it known that a referendum was in the offing.

Agents sought the revamp — which will allow indirect investments in production and media companies by agents and vice versa — in order to better compete with unregulated personal managers. They have also complained that SAG is not sanctioning members who violate the contract by using managers functioning in the role of agents.

Stuart issued a warning in the letter on that issue and said the entire contract could be up for renegotiation: “Any action, other than a recognition of our agreement, will force ATA to review all of its options, including the enforcement of our agreement and the reopening of the agency regulations.”

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