On the first day of resumed talks between the Writers Guild of America and the Association of Talent Agents, ATA proposed a new revenue-sharing deal, and WGA requested the full contract language in order to “formulate the appropriate response,” according to an email the guild sent to members Friday.
“This morning the Negotiating Committee received proposals from the ATA. Although there was cause for concern, including a revenue sharing proposal that instead of 1% is now 2%, the presentation was wide ranging and complex,” the email read, signed by all members of the WGA’s negotiating committee. “We have asked for contract language on their proposals in order to formulate the appropriate response. As we’ve stated, whatever solution we find, it will have to address conflicts of interest and realign agency incentives with those of their writer clients.”
In opening remarks, a copy of which was provided to TheWrap, CAA co-chairman Bryan Lourd told guild representatives that “The ATA has never been more unified and determined to get this right with the membership of your Guild. Today, we hope to turn the page.” Lourd characterized ATA’s position Friday as “negotiating against ourselves,” and said agencies are doing so “knowingly and willingly in order to answer our clients’/your members’ request that we move our groups into alignment.”
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ATA did not immediately respond to a request for further comment from TheWrap.
The latest round of talks comes eight weeks after the overall deal between WGA and ATA expired because the two parties were unable to come to agreement over the practice of packaging — where an agency collects fees from a studio or network for bundling talent it represents and presenting that multi-pronged project to the studio or network.
Packaging has become a major source of income for top Hollywood agencies, effectively making them producers on a movie or TV show. But WGA considers it be a conflict of interest and a violation of agents’ fiduciary duty to their clients. In an effort to bring an end to the practice, earlier this year WGA introduced a tough new code of conduct that forbids talent agents who represent writers from engaging in packaging. The code went into effect April 13, after the overall deal expired.
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The proposal on Friday is the second revenue-sharing deal ATA has offered to writers. In early April, just before the code of conduct went into effect, ATA offered to share a portion of earnings from package deals with writers. WGA called that offer “unacceptable.“