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WGA, Agents Discuss Packaging, Ownership as Deadline Looms

Leaders of the Writers Guild and Hollywood agents have concluded their third meeting in four days with discussion of the key issues of packaging fees and ownership of production companies.

Tuesday afternoon’s session at the WGA West headquarters in Los Angeles lasted several hours, with small groups representing both sides. The negotiators are facing an April 12 deadline to hammer out a deal before the WGA imposes a new Agency Code of Conduct — which will eliminate packaging fees and ownership of production companies by WME, CAA and UTA.

Sources said that a meeting has not been set yet for Wednesday but such a get-together is likely. The sides had been facing an April 6 contract expiration deadline, but an eleventh-hour gathering on that day led to the WGA agreeing to a six-day delay in the implementation of the code.

The sides are trying to avoid the disruption of having thousands of WGA members fire their agents en masse. The guild has vowed to implement its new Code if it can’t reach a deal with the ATA on a new agency franchise agreement. Hollywood’s largest agencies, represented by the ATA, have balked at the guild’s Code of Conduct reforms.

The code will require the 15,000 WGA members to fire their agents if the agents have not signed on to the code.

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