United Talent Agency is poised to become the first of the major Hollywood agencies to reunite the Writers Guild of America’s, numerous insiders close to the decision told Variety.
It’s unclear when the agency will formally sign the franchise agreement, but the decision came down late Tuesday as leadership signed off and agents began contacting writer clients who terminated their ties to the agency in April 2019. The WGA last year initiated new rules for talent agents who represent guild members.
The largest agencies balked at the guild’s efforts to end the longstanding industry practice of packaging fees paid by production entity to agents for assembling TV shows and independent films. The WGA also clamped down on agencies having corporate ties to production entities, as WME, CAA and UTA have in recent years.
UTA is believed to have rejected the guild’s effort to force agencies to disclose financial details of the deals conducted on behalf of writer clients. The guild maintains it needs the information to monitor writer earnings and whether producers are living up to the terms of the master contract. The largest agencies have said they could be sued by clients for forking over the deal-related documents sought by the WGA.
As it hammers out an agreement with the guild, UTA is expected to withdraw from the federal lawsuit that it has waged with CAA and WME against the guild in connection with its packaging reforms. That action accuses the WGA of violating union-related laws by organizing an illegal boycott of the talent agencies.
UTA now joins more than 80 agencies allowed to represent WGA members thanks to agreeing to a limit on agency packaging fees and affiliate production. WGA members were told on April 13, 2019 by WGA West president David Goodman to fire their agents if the agents had not agreed to bans on packaging fees and affiliate production.
Several other agencies — Paradigm, APA, Gersh, Innovative Artists and Verve — have signed deals with the WGA in recent months. It’s unclear if CAA and WME will continue to stand together in the lawsuit, accusing the union of engaging in an illegal group boycott. ICM Partners has not joined the CAA-WME lawsuit.