WGA briefs agents on economic, creative issues

Leaders of the Writers Guild of America have broken new ground in recent weeks by holding briefings with agencies over the union’s upcoming film/TV contract talks.

WGA West prexy John Wells and exec director John McLean have already met with CAA, ICM and William Morris to explain the guild’s key economic and creative rights issues. McLean has met with Endeavor and Broder Kurland Webb Uffner and plans to meet with UTA.

Wells and McLean have also scheduled a Dec. 14 “negotiation outreach” confab for members of the Assn. of Talent Agents.

The initiative has been undertaken as part of the WGA’s efforts to prepare for its as-yet-unscheduled contract talks with studios and networks. The union’s current pact expires May 1.

“We think it’s quite worthwhile for agents to know where the WGA stands and explain what our proposals are,” McLean said. “We’ve had a very constructive dialogue so far.”

In October, the WGA’s membership endorsed a 42-item “pattern of demands” from which the guild’s contract proposal will be hammered out. Among the most important issues are improvements in cable and foreign residuals, bringing Fox residuals in line with those of the Big Three networks and elimination of the possessory credit on films.

The WGA’s outreach to agents is far more extensive and systematic than in previous years. In a campaign begun last winter, union leaders have maintained that the guild needs to achieve significant improvements in its contract after deferring resolution of key issues in recent negotiations.

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