Writers Guild, Talent Agents at Odds as Contract Expiration Nears

Labor News, Industry News

Reprinted from The Hollywood Reporter by Jonathan Handel on February 8, 2019.

With just two months to go before a key contract between the Writers Guild and the Association of Talent Agents terminates, the two organizations are nowhere near resolving fundamental differences over how agencies function and get paid in a rapidly evolving entertainment industry. The two organizations finally met on Tuesday, ten months after the WGA sent a notice starting a 12-month countdown to termination, but according to the ATA, the meeting was not productive.

“The agencies arrived ready to listen to WGA’s explanations of their proposals as were requested to do,” said the ATA in a letter to its members. “However, the executive director of the WGA and his staff merely read their proposals aloud and refused to provide any of the promised explanations or otherwise elaborate on their demands. Given WGA leadership’s approach to this meeting, ATA member agencies have serious doubts about the sincerity of WGA leadership’s desire for a negotiated solution.”

The WGA is seeking massive changes to the way talent agencies do business, demanding that the firms stop collecting packaging fees (a decades-old practice), cease their involvement in production-type activities (much of which is more recent), and not collect commissions on scale compensation. (Unlike actors, who at the low end are paid union scale plus 10 percent, television staff writers are typically paid scale without an extra 10 percent.) …

THR 2/8

About Jeffrey Burman 3994 Articles
Jeff Burman represents assistant editors on the Guild’s Board of Directors. He can be reached at jeffrey.s.burman.57@gmail.com.

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