Leaders of the Writers Guild of America have told their 15,000 members that the town’s two largest talent agenices, CAA and WME, will not see the WGA offer improved terms if the agencies want to represent WGA writers.
The missive from the WGA negotiating committee was sent out Tuesday afternoon. It came a month after ICM Partners and UTA agreed to end separate 15-month standoffs. Under the deals, ICM and UTA agreed to end packaging fees in two years time.
“To be blunt, we’re not going to give them a different and better deal because they waited; we’ve now gone about as far as we can go,” the WGA said. “We’re not going to keep pushing back the sunset period on packaging. We’re not going to allow more than 20% ownership of a production studio.”
CAA and WME, which remain plaintiffs in a federal antitrust suit against the WGA over the guild’s rules, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A source close CAA source asserted negotiations have not taken place but added that the agency is open to talks held in good faith.
The new message said the guild had signed over 100 talent agencies to franchise agreements that achieve the twin goals of curtailing conflicts of interest, most notably packaging fees and affiliated production; and getting the timely information — especially contracts and invoices – the guild needs to enforce writers’ contracts.
“With the signing of UTA and ICM to franchise agreements last month, we now have deals with every significant agency except CAA and WME,” the committee said. “Naturally, members want to know what’s happening on this front. We’ve had cordial discussions with both WME and CAA. We wish we could say we’re close to a deal, but we’re not.”
“WME and CAA are of course welcome to sign the current agreement, which has evolved as a result of meaningful talks with individual agencies,” the message continued. “The WGA has compromised to the extent necessary while ensuring the fundamental goals approved by our membership were maintained. We know that the franchise agreement we now have offers a viable business model for the agencies.”
“Because of their corporate structures and private equity investors, WME and CAA have to make decisions about the future of their affiliate production companies,” the committee went on. “We’re happy to hear their plans and proposals, but ultimately it is their responsibility to find a way out of their dilemma.”
Attorneys for the WGA, CAA and WME agreed last month to postpone the trial until Aug. 24, 2021, due to the pandemic. The packaging fee trial, originally set to start on March 23, 2021 will determine whether the WGA violated antitrust laws when it directed its members to fire their agents in April 2019, after the agencies refused to give up on packaging and affiliate production.