UPDATED: ICM Partners has signed franchise agreement with the Writers Guild of America, Variety has learned.
“We are looking forward to getting back to work for our writer clients,” said the company’s co-president, Kevin Crotty. “The pandemic has caused tremendous hardship and every facet of our industry is greatly challenged because of it. It was time to bridge this gap and get back to helping our clients tell stories that entertain, enlighten, connect and comfort audiences everywhere.”
The agreement between the ICM and the guild is similar to the one signed by UTA in July. Under the deal, ICM has agreed to end packaging fees in two years time. Per an email the WGA sent to members seen by Variety, “Strict limitations apply to agency ownership of production entities,” something to which UTA also agreed. In the case of UTA, they will keep their interest in Civic Center Media, a joint TV production venture with MRC, and cap its minority profit participation in the independent film sales space.
With the deal, ICM is the second of the four major Hollywood agencies to come to an agreement with the WGA along with UTA. CAA and WME have not yet come to such an agreement and remain engaged in a lawsuit with the guild, accusing the union of engaging in an illegal group boycott. With the agreement, UTA formally agreed to withdraw from the suit. ICM was not a part of that lawsuit.
More than 80 agencies are now allowed to represent WGA members again after WGA West president David Goodman originally instructed guild members to fire their agents in April 2019 over the issue of packaging fees and affiliate production.
Several other prominent agencies — Paradigm, APA, Gersh, Innovative Artists and Verve — have signed deals with the WGA in recent months.
Like the rest of the entertainment industry, the agencies have found themselves under heavy financial strain due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic all but shutting down physical production. Writers have proven to be one of the few segments of the industry to still able to work under quarantine conditions, which no doubt played a part in many agencies’ recent decision to sign agreements with the guild.