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RBEL Becomes Fourth ATA-Affiliated Agency to Sign Franchise Agreement With WGA

New signing comes one week after Abrams became largest ATA affiliate to flip amidst packaging fee standoff

The Rothman Brecher Ehrich Livingston Agency (RBEL), a boutique literary talent agency for film and TV, became on Monday the fourth affiliate of the Association of Talent Agents to sign a franchise agreement with the Writers Guild of America amidst an ongoing standoff around packaging fees.

RBEL joins previous signees Kaplan Stahler, Buchwald and Abrams Artists, the latter of which signed with WGA after previous talks during the summer fell through.

In April, WGA implemented a new Code of Conduct for agents designed to end practices it says are conflicts of interest: Packaging, where agencies bundle talent and projects together and bring them to studio as a package, for which the agency collects a fee; and affiliate production, in which a studio partly owned by the agency is involved in a packaged project. Thousands of writers terminated their representation shortly after the Code went into effect, and since then a small handful of agencies have signed on to the Code.

The ATA, which represents top agencies like WME and CAA along with dozens of other agencies, has remained staunchly opposed to eliminating packaging fees. But the four affiliated agencies that have signed did so when given the opportunity to sign on to a franchise agreement that allowed, among other things, for the agencies to continue packaging fees for up to one year after signing. The RBEL version offers similar terms.

“Under the Rothman Brecher agreement, packaging fees are banned after a sunset period ending January 22, 2021.  In order to induce more agencies to sign, the sunset can, under certain circumstances, be extended,” read a letter from WGA leadership released Monday evening.

“The agency also agreed to information-sharing with the Guild, including contracts and invoices, which will aid the Guild in enforcing late pay, free work, and other MBA violations. The agreement includes other modifications to the most-recent franchise agreement, including allowing the agency to have up to a 5% ownership interest in an entity engaged in production or distribution.”