Top Talent Agencies Cancel Emmy Parties As Legal Battle With WGA Continues

Hearings on the WGA’s lawsuit against the Big Four agencies are being scheduled around the night of the Emmys

Talent Agencies WGA 70th Emmy Awards Press Preview
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As the legal battle between the Writers Guild of America and Hollywood’s top agencies continues, those top agencies are cancelling their annual Emmy parties, multiple sources have told TheWrap.

The cancellations continue a trend that began in May during upfronts, where agencies canceled the usual parties held in New York to celebrate the upcoming TV season. Annual agency Emmy parties have been held at top restaurants in Los Angeles as well as the private residences of agency heads like UTA Co-President Jay Sures.

On September 19th, five days after the Emmys take place in downtown Los Angeles, lawyers for the WGA and the four agencies it sued — WME, CAA, UTA and ICM Partners — are scheduled to meet for a hearing that could lead to the dismissal of several aspects of the WGA’s lawsuit.

The WGA filed the lawsuit in April, arguing that the agencies’ use of packaging fees — payments from a studio to agencies in exchange for packaging writers, directors and actors for a project — was a breach of agencies’ fiduciary duty to their clients. Writers such as “Cold Case” creator Meredith Stiehm and “The Wire” creator David Simon attached their names to the lawsuit.

ICM Partners filed a motion to dismiss in July, arguing that the WGA didn’t have the legal ground to use “individualized claims” to file a lawsuit that impacts an entire industry. In addition, CAA, UTA and WME all filed their own lawsuits against the WGA, claiming the guild was participating in an “unlawful group boycott” by instructing its members to leave any agency that would not agree to a Code of Conduct requiring them to eliminate packaging fees in order to represent WGA members. The Code was approved by guild members in a vote this past spring with 95% voting in favor.

One agency that might still hold an Emmy party is The Gersh Agency, which hasn’t agreed to the WGA’s Code but is not currently involved in the ongoing legal dispute. Gersh drew the ire of WGA members when “Queen of the South” writer Jorge Reyes wrote on social media about how the agency had canceled a long-scheduled network meeting he had with Fox after he left Gersh once the WGA began enforcing the Code.

Reyes said he believed it was retaliation for his decision to sign with Verve, one of the few mid-major literary agencies that has agreed to WGA’s terms. Gersh and Reyes later met after the writer came forward about the meeting cancellation, with Reyes saying the agency apologized to him.