by Larry Brody
Welcome to the Battle of the Showbiz Behemoths Volume HolyCrapIt’sBeenGoingOnThisLong? Congratulations to everybody involved because guess what? Last week we saw some very important movement on the front lines.
From the WGAW:
Today the WGA and Verve reached a negotiated franchise agreement with a three-year term. Therefore, effective immediately, Verve joins the list of agencies that can represent members for writing services.
WGA and Verve representatives first met face-to-face on April 30th, and thereafter exchanged counterproposals. The back-and-forth with Verve was the most substantive negotiation with an agency we’ve had to date. Verve was willing to make an agreement that aligns their agents’ interests with their writer clients’ interests. And the Guild was willing to modify the Code, while maintaining the fundamental principle that agencies should neither own production companies nor accept fees from the employers of writers.
The WGA-Verve agreement, like the Code of Conduct:
- Bans packaging fees and agency-affiliated production companies.
- Requires agency to provide writers’ contracts, invoices and deal memos to the WGA and allows auditing.
- Requires agency to enforce Guild contracts and zealously advocate for writers’ best interests re: free work, late pay, abusive hiring practices, etc.
- Allows agency to accept fees for feature film financing and sales services, subject to disclosure and writer approval, for films with less than $20 million budget, and with Guild consent for films with budgets higher than $20 million.
- Contains a streamlined arbitration agreement.
- Requires agency to provide an annual report on its diversity and inclusion efforts.
- Contains a most favored nations’ clause if another agency reaches terms with the Guild more favorable than in this agreement.
The agreement includes some adjustments from the April 13, 2019 Code of Conduct, including:
- Gives either party to the agreement the right to re-open the agreement with at least 90 days’ notice prior to its termination date; if no notice is given, the agreement will be extended for additional one year periods.
- Clarifies that agency can represent producers that do not employ writers.
- Allows agency to provide notice of commencement or anything else triggering compensation by copying the WGA on invoices.
- Allows agency to provide list of films on which it is providing financing or sales services semi-annually rather than quarterly.
This agreement is an important step forward in our efforts to realign agency incentives and eliminate the conflicts of interest that have undermined representation of writers.
WGA-Agency Agreement Negotiating Committee
More about this delightful (well, at least meaningful) turn of events here:
For those of you who are members, this super top secret video from the Writers Guild of America itself also has a hell of a lot to say: