With the Writers Guild of America locked in a bitter standoff with Hollywood agents, three high-profile screenwriters have slammed the severity of the WGA’s tactics.
The letter, addressed to WGA leaders, was written by Brandon Camp, Peter Landesman and Phyllis Nagy. The WGA and the Association of Talent Agents saw talks crater on April 12 over efforts to revamp the 43-year-old rules governing how agents represent WGA members. No new talks are scheduled.
“We are writing to you because we are torn,” Camp, Landesman and Nagy said. “On the one hand, we agree TV packaging has gotten out of hand. On the other, we have serious qualms about the Guild’s tactics in righting this situation. Its methodology has seemed belligerent at times. Meanwhile, leadership’s tone toward its own members has seemed outright threatening, especially toward those who have chosen to dissent from the path you are on.”
The guild has imposed a “code of conduct” after talks collapsed over rules that agents cannot represent WGA members unless they agree to bans on collecting packaging fees on and owning stakes in production companies. That’s led to WGA leadership orchestrating a mass firing of agents by WGA members and a suit against CAA, WME, UTA and ICM alleging illegal conflict-of-interest practices. The ATA, meanwhile, has threatened legal action over managers and lawyers who perform agenting tasks.
“Let us be clear: this is not a labor action, it is not a strike, it is a contract renegotiation,” the trio continued. “You cannot coerce solidarity, especially when the facts are murky. Dissent — even public dissent — is our right, and the narrative that it weakens the Guild is an authoritarian, anti-democratic argument, and we reject it outright.”
The code of conduct was approved in late March by more than 95% of voters. Members who continue to use agents who have not signed the code may be disciplined by the WGA.
There is a growing group of writers who have connected via a private social media channel that is putting pressure on guild leaders to find a resolution to the ATA standoff. There appears to be growing anger about the guild’s tactics in pressuring members to send in their termination letters.
“The path you have taken thus far is a good way to whip up anger and confusion among writers, many of whom are now more frightened than they were before, but it’s a terrible way to create public policy, or get us what we need and deserve,” they also said in the letter.
Camp’s credits include 2018’s “Benji.” Landesman wrote the screenplays for “Parkland,” “Concussion” and “Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House.” Nagy received an Academy Award nomination for her “Carol” script.
The ATA and the WGA had no comment about the letter.