WGA West executive director David Young is accused of threatening to “kill” WME veteran Rick Rosen during a phone call in August, according to legal filings that mark the latest twist in the litigation between the guild and Hollywood’s two largest talent agencies.
The declaration by Rosen came as part of a motion WME filed asking a federal judge to intervene to force a settlement in the long standoff between WME and WGA over the guild’s new rules of engagement for agents who represent members. CAA filed a similar motion on Tuesday.
A spokesman for the WGA denied the allegation against Young and WGA West president David Goodman as cited in Rosen’s declaration.
“After Mr. Young repeatedly threatened to ‘kill’ me during a phone call on August 11, 2020, I called WGAW’s President David Goodman, with whom I have a good professional relationship. I informed Mr. Goodman of Mr. Young’s threats to me,” Rosen stated in the declaration taken Nov. 17. “Mr. Goodman responded ‘Oh God,’ which I interpreted to mean ‘that’s terrible’ but ‘it’s unsurprising.’ This to me underscores that such behavior by Mr. Young is both expected and condoned by the Guilds.”
In a statement, the WGA said WME and CAA are still trying to thwart the larger goals of the guild’s campaign to curb conflicts of interests for agents and their writer clients.
“Today, WME joined CAA in seeking to end the agency campaign, not by picking up negotiations where they left off a month ago – not by looking to resolve their own conflicted practices – but, instead, by once again asking the courts to deny the Guild’s basic right to represent its members in collective action,” Goodman said. “That is not a way forward. As we said to CAA yesterday, the Guild and its members will not be bullied into giving up our right to fair and non-conflicted representation. If WME honestly believes that the way to win writers’ hearts is to threaten us with undermining the Guild itself, they do not know writers – twenty months in and they still do not know writers.”
Rosen has been one of the key players for WME in the rocky negotiations between the agency and the guild. After filing a lawsuit last year, WME and CAA over the past three months have sought to reach a settlement with the guild in order to resume representing writers as most rival agencies have. In Rosen’s declaration, he cites the loss of agents and lost opportunities to recruit new and former writer clients as causing harm to WME’s business.
“As the boycott has dragged on, WME agents have begun to leave because they can no longer represent the writers and showrunners who fired WME at the behest of the Guilds,” Rosen’s declaration states. “Some are leaving to work at franchised agencies, others are becoming talent managers so they can resume representing their writer-clients without being regulated by the Guilds, and others are quitting the writer representation business entirely.”
Rosen cited the departures of WME agents Theresa Kang-Lowe, Rich Cook and David Stone to launch management-production shingles as an example of the “irreparable losses” suffered because of the impasse with the guild.
For the second day in a row, Range Media Partners, the management firm launched in September by CAA alum Pete Micelli, got a plug in the legal wrangling. WME noted that it did not have the chance to recruit showrunner Damon Lindelof for representation because the guild has yet to finalize a settlement with the agency.
“WME could have pitched for that business, but for the boycott,” the filing states.
The WGA has asserted that WME and CAA have yet to satisfy the guild’s divestiture requirements for production assets. WME and CAA have invested more in production companies than other large agencies. As part of the WGA’s agency franchise reforms, agents will soon no longer be able to assemble TV series packages, nor will agencies and their parent companies be allowed to own more than 20% of a production or distribution company.
A hearing on CAA’s request for an injunction is set for Dec. 18 in federal court in Los Angeles. WME’s motion is likely to be heard at the same time.
(Pictured: WGA West’s David Young and WME’s Rick Rosen)