Hollywood Talent Agents, Writers Guild Not In Agreement, As Contract Expiration Nears

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Nothing is worse than a writers strike. And it appears we may be closer to having another one.  With 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.
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“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.)

 

“We … emphatically disagree with what WGA leadership is telling their membership about the practices of packaging, production, and commission of scale – because WGA’s proposals are simply not in the best interest of writers,” added the ATA, which said it has proposed a series of further meetings with the guild.

Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy:  AP
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