Reprinted from Teen Vogue by Kim Kell on April 23, 2019.
“This latest chapter in Los Angeles’s colorful labor history is being written by, well, writers — specifically, screenwriters,” writes Kim Kelly in Teen Vogue. “The people who write movies and television, scripting the comedies and dramas that we love to binge, are locked in a gnarly battle for their rights, careers, and livelihoods, and the dispute involving them, their union, and their talent agents is lighting up Tinseltown.
“The writers, a group of 13,000, are union members represented by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) (of which, full disclosure, I am a member and councilmember). The current dispute stems from the expiration of the 43-year-old ‘franchise agreement,’ a deal that dictates how writers and their agents work together. Agents are represented by the Association of Talent Agents (ATA), which, according to its website, is ‘responsible for legislation, advocacy, and negotiating agency franchise agreements with the major entertainment guilds.’
“The WGA is currently duking it out with the ATA over a process called ‘packaging,’ in which Hollywood talent agencies collect fees from studios for bundling multiple clients together on a project, like a movie or a television series. Writers have long said that this practice results in conflicts of interest and takes money out of their pockets. Agencies say the fees provide an incentive for agents to package projects in a way that’s more attractive to buyers. …