CAA (Sort Of) Signing of the WGA Code of Conduct All a Ploy

CAA has signed an agreement with the Writers Guild of America... kind of.

UPDATE: The WGA may not accept the terms as presented by the agency powerhouse. Here is the note that WGA just sent to membership:

Dear members,

This morning CAA sent a letter to the WGA’s law firm with a new proposal for a WGA franchise agreement. While we have had a few cordial discussions over the past months, this is the first time CAA has sent a written proposal. CAA has agreed to many of the current (ICM) agreement terms, including the packaging sunset period, and information-sharing. However, CAA also sent out a statement to the press and communicated with former clients saying they’d signed the franchise deal. This is not accurate. CAA has proposed changes to the agreement that the WGA has not – and cannot – agree to. Agreement will also depend upon reaching resolution of the lawsuits. The WGA will assess CAA’s offer, but not through the press. CAA remains unfranchised. The Working Rule 23 order remains in effect for CAA until the WGA officially notifies members otherwise. We will keep you informed of any new developments.

 

In Solidarity,

Agency Negotiating Committee

 

The WGA has been holding steadfast that iwould not offer either CAA or WME better terms than it had agreed to with other agencies. And guess what? Sometimes holding your ground actually works. 

After UTA and ICM signed the WGA code of conduct, only WME and CAA were left from the biggest 4 agencies in town. 

In April 2019, WGA West president David Goodman instructed guild members to fire their agents if they would not sign a code of conduct that would ban packaging and other practices. This was an important move that brought writers back into the conversation.

Now, as CAA signs, the WGA can declare victory in a battle that lasted over a year... well, kind of. CAA is asking for one caveat with regards to its affiliated production company, wiip.

“We delivered the signed agreement to the WGA, and we assume that it will be circulated to the appropriate members of the negotiating committee, as well as the membership, shortly,” the statement reads.”  “There is one change we have provided that we think the WGA will be able to agree to. With regard to our investment in the affiliated production company, wiip, we are providing for a commercially practical time to come into compliance with the 20% ownership limitation contained in the agreement. We are unequivocally committed to achieving compliance.”

You can read CAA's full statement on Variety

While there are no details, you can assume the deal looks similar to the one signed with UTA and ICM. Both of those agencies agreed to end the practice of packaging in 2 years and to limit their ownership of production entities.

To date, over 100 agencies, including Paradigm, APA, Gersh, Innovative Artists, and Verve, have now signed deals with the WGA.

Hollywood agencies have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with furloughs, layoffs, and reduced salaries being seen across the board. The only revenue coming in right now was from things being written. and you can't collect on that if you don't represent writers. 

The long battle also cost a lot of these agencies their top tier writers, who left their longtime agents to sign at places that had already worked out a deal. 

I'm sure many writers will get calls from their agents today, excited to do business. They better hope they're not repped elsewhere yet.      

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