Leaders of the Writers Guild of America and Hollywood agents are holding their first meeting since agreeing to a six-day delay on implementing tightened rules on agents.
The meeting took place Monday afternoon at the WGA West headquarters in Los Angeles, two days after the two sides averted a potentially chaotic scenario that would have seen a mass firing of agents.
Thanks to last-minute efforts by the agents to present new proposals, the WGA said it would wait until April 13 to implement its new “Agency Code of Conduct.” The rules would have required WGA members to fire their agents had they not signed the code.
Saturday’s meeting was attended by WGA West Executive Director David Young, showrunners David Shore and Mike Schur and screenwriter Michelle Mulroney. The agencies were repped by WME’s Rick Rosen, UTA’s Jay Sures, CAA’s Bryan Lourd, APA’s James Gosnell and Karen Stuart, executive director of the Association of Talent Agencies. Sures reached out WGA West President David Goodman to get Saturday’s meeting set up.
The sides were expected to meet again this week in the same small-group setting that allowed for more constructive dialogue on Saturday than had been achieved in the formal negotiating sessions with larger groups, according to multiple sources. Young told Variety on Sunday that there was enough substance to the discussion that it warranted giving negotiations with the Association of Talent Agents a little more time to play out.
“We had a good conversation and we haven’t really had very many of those,” Young said. “We thought we’d give it a shot for another few days.”
The Code of Conduct, which was overwhelmingly approved by WGA members in late March, requires that agencies agree to eliminate television packaging fees and ownership interests in production companies — demands that the agents had contended were not feasible. The WGA has asserted that the practices amount to inherent conflicts on interest and threatened several times to file suit against CAA, WME, UTA and ICM Partners.
Stuart said in a message to her members Saturday night that the agents had initiated an informal meeting Friday with the WGA to discuss a pathway and process for moving forward in negotiations. The ATA has not commented further since then.
“Today, a small group of representatives from ATA and WGA met for several hours on a wide range of issues important to both writers and agents,” Stuart added. “Tonight, we mutually agreed to extend the termination of our existing agreement through Friday, April 12 and committed to meeting regularly this week in our continued effort to work towards a resolution that serves the best interests of your businesses and your clients. In the meantime, I continue to welcome your thoughts and look forward to seeing you at Wednesday’s membership meeting, where we will update you further.”