After tense negotiations, the Writers Guild of America and Association of Talent Agents reached a significant breaking point over negotiations to form a new Code of Conduct. The lapsed deadline kicks off a what could be a protracted battle between the writers behind major Hollywood productions and the agents who represent them. The W.G.A. has accused some agents of “packaging” and making affiliate producer deals that cut writers out of profit shares.

To refresh: the Writers Guild of America and Association of Talent Agents—a group of over 100 talent agencies including “Big Four” CAA, WME, UTA, and ICM—have been operating by an “Artists Manager Basic Agreement” in place since 1976. Agents negotiate with production studios to secure the most lucrative deals for their writers, but in recent years have tended toward financial incentives that benefit the agents more-so than the writers—“packaging” talent from their own stables for shows and movies, or securing their own “affiliate producer” stake that adds little-to-no profit incentive for writers.

The WGA has aggressively pushed for a new “code of conduct” that would prevent agents from entering into packaging and production deals—essentially reverting to a system of commission that incentivizes the agents to make better deals for writers, not themselves. Now, the deadline for signing that new code of conduct has officially passed, and writers have agreed to fire any agents and agencies that wont sign the new agreement. A number of prominent writers have even shared their notices of dismissal on social media.

A.T.A. executive director Karen Stuart said Saturday of the breakdown:

The W.G.A. leadership today declared a pathway for compromise doesnt exist. Agencies have been committed to reaching an agreement with the W.G.A. but, despite our best efforts, todays outcome was driven by the Guilds predetermined course for chaos. The W.G.A. is mandating a Code of Conduct that will hurt all artists, delivering an especially painful blow to mid-level and emerging writers, while dictating how agencies of all sizes should function. We came to the negotiating table in good faith and put forth comprehensive proposals providing choice, disclosure, transparency, shared revenue and a significant investment in inclusion programs. Unfortunately, not to our surprise, the W.G.A. did not accept our offer, did not provRead More – Source

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Vanity Fair

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