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Paradigm Signs 5-Year Franchise Agreement With Writers Guild

Paradigm joins APA and Gersh among full-service agencies that have made a deal with the WGA

Paradigm Talent Agency announced on Monday that it has signed a five-year franchise agreement with the Writers Guild of America, allowing its agents to resume representation of WGA members effective immediately.

Paradigm now joins APA and Gersh among the list of full-service talent agencies that have made a deal with the WGA, and it’s the first agency that does major television packaging deals to do so. The WGA now agrees to move the sunset date by which all franchised agencies must eliminate packaging fees — payments to an agency from a studio in exchange for packaging talent — to the end of 2021. Past deals with other agencies have led to the WGA repeatedly pushing back this deadline.

The new deal also doubles the amount of ownership interest an agency can have in affiliate production from 5% to 10%. The deal concludes a months-long negotiation with WGA leadership, which began with talks in mid-December 2019.

“Paradigm’s foremost mission is to serve the needs of artists and the art they create, and so we are excited to announce our new franchise agreement with the Writers Guild, which most importantly allows our agents to get back to representing our WGA member clients,” said Paradigm Chairman/CEO Sam Gores in a statement.

“The issues we had with the existing franchise agreement have been resolved in a way that allows us to shift our business model and to continue providing the high-level comprehensive representation service Paradigm is known for.”

While the deal comes as writers remain among the few Hollywood creatives still at work during the coronavirus pandemic, it also comes just after Paradigm announced furloughs of over 100 agents, with its literary department included in the layoffs. Those laid off will only have health benefits through the end of April, with the remaining workforce taking a 50% pay cut.

“I want to add that the devastating effects of the Coronavirus pandemic on our industry have brought this new franchise agreement into much sharper relief for us,” Gores wrote. “When we began our negotiations with the WGA leadership, we could not have imagined how the world would change, but we feel fortunate that we can now do our part as we face these new challenges.”

It has been nearly one year since WGA members overwhelmingly approved the guild to enforce new rules requiring agencies to eliminate packaging fees in order to represent guild members. Upon enforcement, the guild ordered its members to terminate their representation with any agency that would not adhere to the new guidelines. The WGA has entered into negotiations with many mid-sized and smaller agencies while entering a legal battle with Hollywood’s top agencies — WME, CAA, UTA and ICM Partners — who perform the vast majority of packaging fee deals and have staunchly refused to remove them.