David Goodman, who was resoundingly re-elected president of the Writers Guild of America West on Monday, said the guild plans to meet with several talent agencies soon in an effort to ease the impasse over packaging fees and affiliated production.
“Many agencies had indicated that they wanted to wait to see the results of the election before they met with us again,” he told Variety.
Goodman noted that the election became a referendum on the guild’s ongoing battle with talent agents, particularly the guild’s strategy to negotiate with individual agencies rather than with the collective Association of Talent Agents. Goodman received 4,395 votes to Phyllis Nagy’s 1,282 in an election that yielded record turnout among the WGA West’s nearly 10,000 members — more than half of eligible voters cast ballots. Goodman’s allies also won all 10 other seats that were up for election.
“This was the membership saying very loudly and very clearly that they support us and our strategy,” he said. “And this is an activated membership that is telling us to keep going. We’re going to try to start meeting with the individual agencies as soon as possible.”
Nagy headed the Writers Forward Together on a platform that highlighted the need for the WGA to resume negotiations with the major agencies via the ATA. Goodman and his allies opted for talks with individual agencies since June. Three mid-sized agencies – Verve, Kaplan Stahler, and Buchwald — signed deals with the WGA that included bans on packaging fees and affiliate ownership.
The WGA and Hollywood’s four largest agencies — WME, CAA, UTA and ICM Partners — are embroiled in litigation stemming from the guild’s effort to ban the longstanding industry practice of agents collecting packaging fees from producers of TV series and some movies. The agency initiative has caused a divide among WGA members, which led to the opposition slate formed by Nagy.
Nagy and her slate had campaigned on a pledge to begin negotiations with the ATA rather an individual agencies because of the need to reach an agreement with the four major agencies.
“We congratulate David Goodman and the elected officers and board members on their victory,” Nagy and her WGA Forward Together slate said in a statement. “Elections crucially give voice to opposing points of view, and while our strategies may differ, our goals are the same: to serve the best interests of our fellow members. We remain committed, passionate advocates for our Guild who believe that far more unites us than divides us. We were honored to hear the concerns and perspectives of so many writers, and look forward to participating in the next chapter of the Guild’s proud history.”