The Writers Guild of America announced Thursday that Buchwald has joined Pantheon and Kaplan Stahler as the third member of the Association of Talent Agents to sign on to their new franchise agreement, becoming the second agency this week to break ranks with the ATA as its battle with the guild over packaging fees continues.
For months, the WGA’s members have been working without representation, leaving their agencies after authorizing the guild to enforce a new Code of Conduct that requires agencies to eliminate packaging fees — fees paid by a studio to agencies to gather talent for a project — in order to represent writers.
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But recently, the WGA has shown willingness to make some concessions in agreements with mid-size agencies like Buchwald, hoping to bring smaller ATA-affiliated agencies onto the list of organizations that writers can seek representation with. For Buchwald and Kapler Stahler, some of these concessions allow for the continuation of packaging fees for one year and to allow writers to opt out of sending their contract information to the WGA. The Buchwald agreement also allows for the agency to provide financing, sales and distribution services to independent film projects.
However, the four top agencies in Hollywood — WME, CAA, UTA and ICM Partners — are the ones who make the overwhelming majority of deals involving packaging fees. Those agencies are now locked in a legal battle with WGA, with both sides filing lawsuits against each other. A hearing to potentially dismiss parts of the WGA’s lawsuit against the four agencies is currently scheduled for September.
The agreement was first reported by Deadline.