The lead negotiator for Hollywood agents has expressed hope for more negotiations with the Writers Guild of America following their June 7 meeting, though no new talks have been set yet.
“Let me be clear that our second offer is a starting place for renewed negotiations – an opportunity to press reset,” said Karen Stuart, executive director of the Association of Talent Agents, and ATA president Jim Gosnell, in a message to ATA members on Sunday. “The guild should not subject this offer to another flat-out rejection without counter. We encourage them to sit back down with us, roll up our sleeves and together work through the issues.”
“Your ATA eight-member-company Working Group has worked tirelessly every day on behalf of the industry to try and find a workable solution with the guild,” Stuart and Gosnell went on. “I wanted to thank them for their dedication and time. We hope the time has come for the WGA’s leadership to start bargaining in earnest.”
The June 7 session, the first in two months, included an ATA revenue-sharing proposal to settle the packaging fee battle that led to mass firings of agents by guild members nearly two months ago. CAA co-chairman Bryan Lourd emphasized that the agencies are willing to share 2% of their gross revenue from packaging on shows that reach profitability with lower-level writers working on those series.
The WGA responded on June 7 in a message to members by saying, “We have asked for contract language on their proposals in order to formulate the appropriate response. As we’ve stated, whatever solution we find, it will have to address conflicts of interest and realign agency incentives with those of their writer clients.”
The guild has not responded further since then. The WGA filed suit against the industry’s four largest agencies — WME, CAA, UTA and ICM Partners — on April 18 over the packaging fee issues.
The sides are battling over the WGA’s effort to bar agents who represent guild members from receiving packaging fees on TV series from production entities, a longstanding industry practice, and a ban on the expansion of the parent companies of the Big Three agencies into the production-distribution arena.