The Writers Guild of America, which is threatening to require members to fire their agents, has posted a scathing video attacking how major agencies conduct packaging.
Titled “Agency Conflicts of Interest,” the video explains that compensation for writers has declined by 23% between 2014 and 2016 and blames the agencies for taking packaging fees on television shows instead of the traditional 10% commission. It also attacked CAA, WME and UTA for having started affiliate production companies — resulting in the agencies negotiating terms while sitting on both sides of the tables.
“Packaging puts the agency in direct conflict with the writers,” the video declared. “When your agency is also your employer, the conflict of interest is clear and flagrant.”
The WGA and the Association of Talent Agents held a seventh day of negotiations on Tuesday, then blasted each other with agents saying the WGA’s proposed plan throws the industry into “chaos” and the WGA accusing the agencies of avoiding serious conversation about the damage inflicted on writers by “conflicted practices.”
The WGA issued a blistering report on March 12 accusing the top four Hollywood talent agencies of extensive and illegal conflicts of interest. It is demanding the elimination of agency packaging fees and ownership interest in affiliate production companies — demands that the agencies have insisted are not feasible.
The WGA will hold five days of member voting starting on March 27 on a proposed “code of conduct.” If the current franchise agreement expires on April 7, the WGA will require members to fire their agents, if they have not agreed to the new code.
The WGA said in the video, “Hollywood talent agencies have a business model rife with conflicts of interest. This means they do what’s best for them, even if it’s not best for their clients. These conflicts hurt writers. The situation is bad, and it’s getting worse.”
Here’s the video, which was posted on Tuesday: