WGA Files Suit Against Big 4 Agencies re Packaging Fees

by Larry Brody

Where we are now, via the WGA Negotiating Committee yesterday:

Dear Members,

Today the WGA filed suit in California state court against the four largest packaging agencies: WME, CAA, UTA, and ICM.  You can read the lawsuit here.

Guild members Patti Carr, Ashley Gable, Barbara Hall, Deric Hughes, Chip Johannessen, Deirdre Mangan, David Simon, and Meredith Stiehm have agreed to be plaintiffs, representing themselves and all writers harmed by packaging fees.

The goal of the lawsuit is a judicial declaration that packaging fees are unlawful as well as an injunction prohibiting talent agencies from entering into future packaging fee arrangements. The suit will also seek damages on behalf of writers and repayment of illegal profits.

The complaint is comprised of two claims:

  1. Packaging fees violate California fiduciary duty law.  Under state law, talent agents are fiduciaries, who are required by law to represent writers with undivided loyalty and without conflicts of interest.
  2. Packaging fees also violate California’s Unfair Competition Law.  Packaging is an unfair practice because it violates a federal statute, the so-called “anti-kickback” provision of the Taft-Hartley Act.  The direct payment of our agencies by our employers is prohibited under both state and federal law.

The WGA will continue to use all appropriate methods, including negotiation and litigation, to align agency interests with the interests of writers.

In Solidarity,

WGAW Board of Directors

David A. Goodman, President
Marjorie David, Vice President
Aaron Mendelsohn, Secretary-Treasurer
John August
Andrea Berloff
Angelina Burnett
Patti Carr
Travis Donnelly
Jonathan Fernandez
Ashley Gable
Deric A. Hughes
Michele Mulroney
Zak Penn
Luvh Rakhe
David Slack
Meredith Stiehm
Betsy Thomas
Patric M. Verrone
Nicole Yorkin

WGAE Council

Beau Willimon, President
Jeremy Pikser, Vice President
Bob Schneider, Secretary-Treasurer
Monica Lee Bellais
Kyle Bradstreet
Lisa Takeuchi Cullen
Bonnie Datt
Kaitlin Fontana
A.M. Homes
Kim Kelly
Susan Kim
Chris Kyle
Gail Lee
Kathy McGee
Hamilton Nolan
Phil Pilato
Courtney Simon
David Simon
Amy Sohn
Kelly Stout
Tracey Scott Wilson
Michael Winship

Related news:

WGA To Membership: Lawyer Up! David Goodman Explains Why Attorneys & Managers Can Fill The Gap

Cartoon: ‘What to do on a Rainy Day’

Our fave philosopher-cartoonist, Grant Snider, applies himself to a problem we’re certain has faced humanity since before the dawn of civilization. We endorse his solution but what also like to suggest an alternate of our own.

What’s that? You think you know. If you said, “Write!” you’d be right!

The Shape of Ideas Sketchbook by Grant Snider features new illustrations, comics on drawing and creativity, and many blank pages for your own ideas, doodles, and observations. Order it from Abrams or wherever you get your books.

While you’re at it, you can find more of Grant’s extraordinary perception of human creativity at Incidental Comics, HERE

Buy Grant’s wonderful book, The Shape of Ideas, HERE

Beginners Guide to Cord Cutting

Because everybody keeps asking:

The video above is for Paul. He knows who he is. Glad to be of service, P.W.

More Cord Cutters News Videos

Lionsgate & Howard University Join To Bring More Diversity to Hollywood

via TVWriter™ Press Service (& Deadline.Com)

Thanks to Lionsgate, students at Howard University in D.C. are getting a

Sen. Kamala Harris

chance to learn the entertainment business through paid internship programs. Lionsgate is the first entertainment company to join forces with Howard University to start the educational institute’s program that has allows six to 12 students to learn the filmmaking and television businesses. This particular program was launched by UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.

The idea for this came from Sen. Kamala Harris, who is a Howard alumni and mentioned to Lionsgate that intern programs with higher education could increase diversity across the entertainment business. “She was one of the catalysts to help raise awareness around this opportunity,” Jay Tucker, Exec Director at the Center for MEMES (Media, Entertainment & Sports) at UCLA told Deadline. “It really helped to get the ball rolling.”

“Howard University has produced several graduates from film, law, business and theater who have paved their own paths into Hollywood through their persistence, however there is more work to do before the entertainment industry reflects the diverse audiences it serves,” said Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick in a statement to Deadline. “I applaud our partners at Lionsgate for building a bridge from higher education to the workplace which will help diversify Hollywood behind the camera and create a new generation of executives.”

Lionsgate and UCLA hope to grow this program to include other HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities) and women’s colleges to give students who would normally not have the chance a pipeline into the industry. They are also hoping to have other studios, networks and production companies join the program to help in diversifying the ranks in Hollywood.

HBCU higher education institutions were established before the 1964 Civil Rights Act with the primary intention of serving African-American communities. Howard University is one of the highest-ranking HBCU in this nation.

“The courses that we focus on here, they are really only the only courses that students can take that combines guests lectures, field trips and they also have capstone projects built into each class — these are resume building, hands-on projects,” Tucker said. “We have tons of access to executives and we really use the city as a lab. The program with Howard University (helps) the diversity pipeline. No one is offering what we can with the combination of what we have. Lionsgate has really been instrumental in pushing this initiative and we hope others in the industry will join in to help us with this all-important program.”

The students are undergrads placed in companies for 20 to 25 hours in paid internships at roughly $13 to $15 an hour.

Lionsgate employed three interns motion picture, production, worldwide TV/digital distribution and talent acquisition. One of the interns has already been hired for an entry level position at the company. They are also recruiting and will be hiring more interns this summer.

“Greater diversity and inclusion makes our industry stronger and our films and television series better,” Lionsgate Vice Chairman Michael Burns told Deadline. “Not only are we creating opportunities for the students in the program, but they in turn are creating opportunities for us to make our workplace more diverse and our storytelling richer and more varied.”


Starz Doesn’t Like News About Its Leaked TV Shows

(UPDATE: Bear with us. This gets complicated. Shortly after we prepared the article below for publication, Starz tweeted an apology and explanation to TorrentFreak.) You can find it HERE.

(Maybe this is over now. Or maybe it isn’t? Guess we’ll have to see.)

Yesterday, we ran an article from TorrentFreak about leaks about several TV shows including Starz’s American Gods. Guess who immediately demanded that a TorrentFreak tweet on the subject be taken down pronto?

Yep, Starz.  Here’s the story:

by Ernesto

At TorrentFreak, we have been covering copyright and piracy related news for well over a decade.

We write about things that copyright holders are not happy with, and similarly, we report on bad news for pirates as well. The leading factor is always whether we believe something is newsworthy, or not.

Earlier this week we published an article that definitely fits that category. In the span of a few days, several TV-show episodes leaked online before their official release, which is something that rarely happens.

Due to the leak, complete seasons of unreleased TV-shows such as “The Spanish Princess,” “Ramy,” and “The Red Line,” surfaced on pirate sites. In most cases, there were visible signs revealing that the leaks were sourced from promotional screeners, but other than that information remains scarce.

Among the treasure trove of leaks were also several unreleased episodes of the Starz hit series “American Gods.” This is obviously not the type of news the American entertainment company wanted to see published, but in our niche, it’s a big deal nonetheless.

As with all our news articles, we automatically posted a link to it on Twitter, to share it with the audience there. The tweet was just a simple description, with an image and a link to the news report. Nothing out of the ordinary, one would think.

The tweet

To our surprise, however, this tweet is now no longer available. Twitter informed us a few hours ago that The Social Element Agency asked it to remove the “infringing” tweet on behalf of Starz.

The social media platform complied with the request and as a result, our tweet is now “withheld,” or removed if you will.

According to the takedown notice, Starz argues that the tweet is infringing because it links to an article where people can see “of images of the unreleased episodes” and find more “information about their illegal availability….”


EDITOR’S NOTE: Shortly after we prepared the article below for publication, Starz tweeted an apology and explanation to TorrentFreak.) You can find it HERE