Locked in a bitter stand-off with Hollywood agents, the Writers Guild of America has announced that it’s expanding its nascent staffing submission system for television work.
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. The guild has imposed a “code of conduct” after talks collapsed with the requirements that agents cannot represent WGA members unless the agents agree to bans on collecting packaging fees on and owning stakes in production companies.
Most major agencies have refused to do so — resulting in the WGA requiring that members fire their agents. The WGA has also sued CAA, WME, UTA and ICM alleging illegal conflict-of-interest practices while the ATA has threatened legal action over managers and lawyers who perform agenting tasks of procuring employment.
No new negotiations have been scheduled. Instead, both sides have continued taking potshots at each other during the past two weeks.
In a message to its 15,000 members on Friday, the WGA extolled the benefits of its do-it-yourself submission system web site. The union said that in the 26 days the site has been operating, there have been 2,135 submissions by 1,048 writers to 92 shows.
“In its first month in operation, the Staffing Submission System has delivered thousands of writers’ samples directly to showrunners who are looking to hire,” the message said. “Writers are getting read. Show meetings are being set. Staffing season is unfolding without chaos – and without agents. While no online portal can take the place of a good representative, this system has successfully bridged an important gap.”
“We are now ready to expand access for the week before Upfronts,” the WGA added. “On May 6th, all Current members will be able to make three more submissions. Please note that the system will not allow members to “bank” submissions. Whether you have used your first three submissions or not, your counter will reset to three total.”
“The system will be opened to all Associate and Post-Current members, who will also be able to make up to three submissions,” the message continued. “The WGA’s Staffing Submission System is available to Guild members via myWGA portal on the Guild’s website.”
“We will be monitoring the system closely to ensure that it continues to provide writers looking for work and showrunners looking for writers with a valuable way to connect as we work toward a resolution with the agencies,” it concluded.