Update: The WGA votes are in and 95% of Writer have voted to hold their agents to the code of conduct outlined by the WGA.
We covered the WGA's video to its members encouraging them to confront the negative affect packaging and other practices have had against writers in the marketplace. Now, all the votes have been counted and the vote was 7,882 in favor of creating a new “Code of Conduct. There were 392 voting against — that’s more than 95% supporting the outcome. The new rules require elimination of agencies receiving packaging fees and having ownership interest in affiliate production companies — demands that the agencies say are impossible to meet.
The WGA sent this letter to their members.
The ATA has until April 6th to sign the code and make changes to their organization. If they do not sign, every WGA writer in Hollywood will leave their agents. With managers and lawyers given fiduciary duties, this will usher in a new landscape in Hollywood, with Agents not only representing talent and directors.
There's still room to negotiate a new deal even after the 6th, but a 95% vote shows intense solidarity within the WGA. So the ATA will have to come to the table with better deals than the ones they tried to counter with a few weeks ago.
But recent developments, including some agencies like WME announcing they're going to file for a public offering, made the WGA wary of the ATA's willingness to play ball. The guild maintains this is another sign that WME is facing fiduciary conflicts as its parent company prepares to open itself up to greater scrutiny of its quarterly earnings performance - and if packaging is pulling in the money you cannot expect them to just toss that out.
The WGA issued this statement:
“Today’s announcement that Endeavor plans to become a publicly-traded company only strengthens the call for the conflicted and illegal practices of the major talent agencies to end...It is impossible to reconcile the fundamental purpose of an agency — to serve the best interests of its clients — with the business of maximizing returns for Wall Street. Writers will not be leveraged by their own representatives into assets for investors.”
Only time will tell if they can come to an agreement.
What's next? Explore the Writer v. Agency Debate
A 40-year agreement is about to come to an end. And the future of writer representation hangs in the balance. The WGA and ATA are going 12 rounds over the Artists' Manager Basic Agreement, a document signed into existence in 1976 that outlines the basic tenements of how Agents and Managers should represent writers. Now that the vote is in, go back to the debate and see what's to come!
Last year, the WGA decided that based on data and testimony collected that agreement needed a serious revamp. Hollywood does not look at all like it did in 1976, and the rise of agencies, packaging fees, and digital has created murky waters. The Association of Talent Agents, or ATA, was approached by the WGA to start a new negotiation based on these grievances.
Read the article to get the full scoop!