You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Writers Guild Presses for Tougher Agency Rules: ‘You Will Be Empowered’

With no end in sight for its six-month standoff with agents, leaders of the Writers Guild of America are doubling down on the need to revamp the rules.

In a message sent to members Thursday, the guild’s negotiating committee underlined its long-held assertion that Hollywood agents need to be more transparent if they are going to be allowed to represent the 15,000 WGA members.

“One of the wonkiest issues in this agency negotiation is our request that agencies automatically send writers’ contracts and invoices to the guild,” the WGA said. “Why is this issue so important? It comes down to two crucial benefits this will provide: 1. Data. 2. Tools to fight free work, late pay, and underpayment.”

“Knowledge is power,” the missive said. “Agents have it, writers need it. With contract sharing in place, the guild will be able to collect overall salary data for the membership, aggregate it, and turn it into incredibly valuable tools that all of us can use. Think how empowered you would be if you could walk into your next negotiation are with information like:

— What’s the median salary for the job I’m about to take? That could mean industry-wide, or even as specific as ‘a first-time co-producer on an ABC hour-long.’
— In features, does Studio A typically only do 1-step deals? What about their competitors? If Studios B and C typically offer better terms, would I rather try to work for those places?
— What is my studio’s pay range for pilots? As compared to its competitors?
And so on.

Then, instead of having to blindly rely on your agent to tell you that ‘This is a fair deal,’ or ‘This is the best we can get,’ you will ‘know’ whether or not that’s true. Instead of your representative having all the information – and thus, all the power – you will now be empowered.”

The WGA concluded the message by asserting, “A core obligation of any labor union, in any industry, is to protect its members from abusive working practices. Contracts and invoices will provide the Guild with long-overdue tools to defend writers, and also empower us with data to take charge of our own careers.”

The announcement comes as the WGA has been locked in a heated standoff over the past six months with Hollywood agents over the issues of how agents represent WGA members. The guild required on April 13 that members fire their agents if the agents had not signed a Code of Conduct which bans agents from taking packaging fees and prohibits agencies from owning production affiliates.

President David Goodman and his allies handily won the WGA West contest on Sept. 16 with a record turnout of 58%. After winning, Goodman promised that WGA leaders would begin meeting soon with individual agencies to sign agreements regarding the bans on packaging fees and affiliate production.

Currently, more than 70 agencies are allowed to represent WGA members thanks to agreeing to a ban of agency packaging fees and affiliate production. A trio of mid-sized agencies — Verve, Kaplan Stahler and Buchwald — have signed deals with the WGA since April. Goodman has asserted that non-franchised agency outreach to writers has increased as agents continue to try to pressure and/or entice their former clients to violate the guild regulations in Working Rule 23.

Sources have told Variety that other mid-sized agencies have expressed reluctance to agree to rules that are perceived as giving the WGA increased power over their clients.

CAA, UTA and WME recently consolidated their antitrust suits against the Writers Guild of America into a single action, accusing the union of engaging in an illegal group boycott. The complaint repeats allegations that were filed in individual agency suits in June and July, accusing the WGA of abusing its collective bargaining authority and engaging in an unlawful “power grab.”

Current WGA rules require members to report any new contract: “Each member must promptly file with the Guild office a copy of his/her contract of employment (whether such agreement provides for leasing of material, participation in profits, residuals or otherwise) in no case later than one week after the receipt of the contract.”

The Association of Talent Agents, which had been in negotiations on behalf of the town’s agencies until June, issued a dismissive response on Friday that repeated its assertions that the WGA is denying its members “choice” by insisting on the new rules.

“Agents have a fiduciary duty not to disclose a client’s confidential financial information unless the client consents to the disclosure,” the statement said. “The WGA leadership is well aware that most clients prefer not to disclose this information, which is why the Guild does not enforce its existing rules requiring writers to send their contracts to the WGA.”

“Additionally, studios are also already required to provide copies of all writer contracts to the guild. The agencies’ proposal included providing writer contracts, with the right of their clients to say ‘no.’ Yet the WGA rejected that outright and the only ‘opt-out’ they have since accepted is one that requires agencies to report on clients, by name, to the Guild. This is not about the Guild serving as the ‘muscle,’ but rather another example of its continuous attempts to limit writers’ choice,” the statement concluded.


More TV

  • 'SNL' Turns the Impeachment Hearings into

    'Saturday Night Live' Turns the Impeachment Hearings into a Soap Opera (Watch)

    “Saturday Night Live” kicked off its Nov. 16 episode with a take on the biggest news story of the previous week (and foreseeable future): the impeachment hearings. But another big story of the week, especially in Hollywood, was how NBC’s last remaining daytime drama, “Days of our Lives,” had let its actors out of their [...]

  • Andy Cohen attends BravoCon's "Watch What

    'The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City' to Debut in 2020

    Bravo announced Saturday during its first annual BravoCon that a tenth “Real Housewives” series, “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,” will debut in 2020. Bravo host and “Real Housewives” executive producer Andy Cohen made the announcement during a panel titled “Ask Andy” at the NYC convention. “We’ve always tried to choose a city that [...]

  • The Simpsons

    Disney Plus Will Make 'The Simpsons' Available in Original Uncropped Format in Early 2020

    Eep! After an outcry from “The Simpsons” aficionados, Disney has decided to offer classic episodes of the iconic animated sitcom on Disney Plus in their original 4-by-3 aspect ratio early next year. The streaming service launched Nov. 12 in the U.S., Canada and the Netherlands with the full batch of “Simpsons” episodes in 16-by-9 HD [...]

  • Sterling K. Brown on His Oscar

    Sterling K. Brown on His Oscar Buzz for 'Waves': 'Kind of Surreal'

    Sterling K. Brown can’t quite comprehend the awards attention he’s receiving for his work in the A24 drama “Waves.” “If the Academy sees fit to put me in a category with people who I absolutely adore, I will pee all over myself, dude” the Emmy winner says on the latest episode of “The Big Ticket.” [...]

  • TV News Roundup: 45th Annual Humanitas

    TV News Roundup: 45th Annual Humanitas Nominees Announced

    In today’s TV news roundup, Humanitas has released the finalists for the 45th Annual Humanitas Prize, and YouTube announced a new beauty competition series hosted by James Charles.  CASTINGS Jason Kennedy has been named as the host of E!’s new series “In The Room.“ The “E! News” host will bring viewers inside celebrity homes for [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Viacom Extends 'The Office,' 'Parks and Recreation' Syndication Deals

    “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation” reruns will continue to air on Viacom linear networks for the foreseeable future. The company announced that it has reached a new deal with NBCUniversal to keep “The Office” on Comedy Central through 2021. The series will then air in a non-exclusive window on Viacom Media Networks through 2025. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content