Members of the Writer’s Guild of America fired thousands of Hollywood talent agents Friday because the agencies did not agree to a code of conduct proposed by the screenwriter’s union.
“WGA current members cannot be represented by agencies unless they have signed the code,” read a public statement issued by the Guild’s Agency Agreement Negotiating Committee.
The Guild’s action came after negotiations over a new agreement broke down between the guild, which represents thousands of screenwriters, and the Association of Talent Agents, a group that represents talent agencies including industry leaders Creative Artists Agency, Endeavor, and the United Talent Agency.
Karen Stuart, executive director of the Association of Talent Agents, slammed the union. “The WGA leadership today declared a pathway for compromise doesn’t exist,” Stuart said in a statement. “Agencies have been committed to reaching an agreement with WGA, but despite our best efforts, today’s outcome was driven by the Guild’s predetermined course for chaos.”
The Guild and talent agents reached an agreement in 1976 that dictates their relationship. But the Guild opted last year to renegotiate the deal.
There was an initial deadline of April 6 for new agreed upon terms, which both sides extended for a week.
The sticking points are packaging fees – in which agents negotiate contracts on behalf of several actors, directors and writers instead of one writer - and affiliate productions, which means talent agencies making their own entertainment content.
The Guild is seeking to end both practices. The Association of Talent Agents released a counter-proposal Sunday that included new language in revealing potential conflicts of interest to writers, but did not agree to end or significantly reduce packaging fees or affiliate productions.