The Writers Guild of America has blasted Endeavor, the parent of WME, over a report that it’s planning an initial public offering.
“Today’s announcement that Endeavor plans to become a publicly-traded company only strengthens the call for the conflicted and illegal practices of the major talent agencies to end,” the guild said. “It is impossible to reconcile the fundamental purpose of an agency — to serve the best interests of its clients — with the business of maximizing returns for Wall Street. Writers will not be leveraged by their own representatives into assets for investors.”
Friday’s blistering response came in the midst of the Writers Guild’s battle against talent agencies taking packaging fees and owning production companies. The WGA started five days of online voting on Wednesday night on a “code of conduct,” which would require members to fire their agents if the agents have not signed on to the code by April 7.
The WGA is demanding the elimination of agencies receiving packaging fees and having ownership interest in affiliate production companies — demands that the agencies have insisted are not feasible. The WGA and Association of Talent Agents have held seven unproductive negotiating sessions since Feb. 5. After Tuesday’s session, both sides issued rancorous statements and blamed each other for the lack of progress. No new sessions have been scheduled.
The ATA made counter-proposals at a March 21 session that contain provisions for more accountability and transparency by agencies for clients including giving writers consent over whether a television show is packaged. The negotiations are the first effort to revamp the 43-year-old franchise agreement.
The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Endeavor LLC, the international entertainment and marketing colossus that owns WME and the Ultimate Fighting Championship league, is kicking its plans for an initial public offering into high gear.
The report said that company has or is about to file confidential paperwork for an IPO, according to people familiar with the matter — which would put the Hollywood conglomerate on track to hit the public markets by the end of this year.
Reps for WME did not immediately respond to a request for comment.