WGA Says It’s Had “Negotiation Conversations” With “Major Agencies”

The WGA says it’s been talking to a number of talent agencies – including “major agencies” – over the past two months in an attempt to get them to sign its new franchise agreement.

It’s been more than two months since the guild has signed a mid-size agency to its agreement, which bans packaging fees after one year and prohibits agency affiliations with corporately related production entities. Representatives of the Big Four agencies — CAA, UTA, WME and ICM Partners — said earlier this week that they have not had any negotiations with the guild since talks broke off on June 7.

There had been a lot of chatter in the past couple of weeks about talks between WGA and agencies, which agency sources had been denying.

“Some of you have asked about the WGA’s recent contact with agencies,” the guild’s negotiating committee said in a message to WGA members tonight. “We’ve had negotiation conversations over the past two months with a number of unsigned agencies, including major agencies. It is clear these agencies very much want to represent writers again. We’ve listened to their pitches and will continue to meet with any unsigned agency willing to talk, while respecting their requests for confidentiality.

“Nonetheless, nothing any agency has proposed or floated with regard to packaging makes us change our firm position, reaffirmed by the election results, that agencies should make 10% of writer earnings,” the statement added. “Furthermore, our position remains that agency-controlled production studios are bad for writers, and that agencies must share with the WGA writers’ deal memos, payment invoices and all relevant information regarding how much agencies make for representing us.

“We will continue to move the negotiation process forward and sign additional agencies under fair deals for writers as soon as possible.”

The guild has broken off negotiations with the Association of Talent Agents, which represents all of the major agencies, and instead has been seeking deals with individual agencies.

The nearly six-month battle began on April 13, when the guild ordered all of its members to fire their agents who refuse to sign its Code of Conduct. The only mid-size agencies to sign so far have been Verve, Kaplan Stahler and the Buchwald agency. Kaplan Stahler signed on July 22, and Buchwald signed three days later.

Since then, David A. Goodman has been re-elected president of the WGA West, and all of his running mates were elected or re-elected on the promise of continuing the agency campaign. Running on the same platform, Beau Willimon, who ran unopposed, was re-elected president of the WGA East, as were all of his running mates.

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