Big Wheel Keeps on Turnin’, WGA-ATA Keep on Churnin’

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:

Dear Members,

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.

In Solidarity,

WGA-Agency Agreement Negotiating Committee

More about this delightful (well, at least meaningful) turn of events here:

Verve Signs WGA’s Code Of Conduct, A First Crack In Agencies’ Solidarity

In Wake of Verve Signing, ATA Says Again That WGA’s Code Of Conduct “Hurts Agencies And Writers”

WGA Says 75% Of Projects At Agency-Affiliated Production Companies Are Written By Agencies’ Own Clients

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:

In Solidarity!

WGA-ATA Still Slogging Away

by Larry Brody

No big news in the War For The Soul of Hollywood (as some people in the know seem to be regarding it), but the Writers Guild of America has taken an interesting tack in trying to explain the basis for the dispute by reprinting and posting the article shown in the image above.

If you’re a WGAW member you’ll be equipped to bypass security and read it all here:

https://www.wga.org/uploadedfiles/members/member_info/agency_agreement/wga_dj-4-25-19.pdf

If you’re not a member, you can try searching the Daily Journal site. I did and failed, but who knows? You just might be a more passionate seeker than yours truly.

In the article, the writer, attorney Thomas Vidal, sums up what we’re fighting for quite well:

By aggressively pursuing their packaging fees, agencies and agents have elevated their own interests above those of their writers. This the law does not and should not countenance.

Other issues are involved here, of course, but that one, boys and girls, is the Big One.

While we’re at this, a couple of interesting perspectives on the what’s happening, via Deadline and The Hollywood Reporter, are here:

Agentless Writers Find Early Success Crowdsourcing New TV Hires

Lessons From Past Strikes May Hold Key To Unlocking WGA-ATA Impasse

In Solidarity!

Writers Guild – Talent Agents Troops Dig In

by Larry Brody

The latest developments in Hollywood’s latest War Between Those Who Should Be Brothers & Sisters:

Why Did Writers Have To Fire Their Agents, What Is WGA’s Endgame & Other Burning Questions Addressed By Guild Chief David Goodman

Writers vs. Agents: A Standoff Without a Script by Cynthia Littleton

And if you’re a WGA member, you should be able to log in and see the video below by Agency Negotiating Committee Co-Chair Chris Keyser

CLICK ABOVE for video

The Latest on the Writers Guild of America-Association of Talent Agents Situation

by Larry Brody

The latest development, per the Writers Guild of America West Board of Directors last Friday, April 26th:

Dear Members,

Dear Members,

We want to give you an update as to where things stand, and we will be doing this on a regular basis.  Although we would all like a quick resolution, we are confronting an entrenched power system that is difficult to change overnight.  While we have made it clear we are willing to negotiate with any agency or group of agencies that embrace an agenda that aligns writers’ interests with their agencies, this may not happen until the pressure increases.  In the meantime:

  • Writers are exercising essential pressure by withholding representation of our valuable talents from conflicted agencies.
  • The lawsuit against the agencies goes forward.
  • We have notified private equity firms and institutional investors, including public sector pension funds, about the Big Three oligopoly agencies’ legal jeopardy and their loss of one of their key assets: writers.
  • The Guild is facilitating communication and support both for writers seeking employment and employers seeking writers.  Today an important expansion of the Staffing Submission System was announced, and the inaugural WGA Weekly Feature Memo was sent to producers.  And members continue to demonstrate their solidarity by helping each other find work during this period of disruption.
Although we’ll do our best to anticipate what will happen next, every campaign has its challenges.  Keep in mind it has only been two weeks since we implemented the Code of Conduct, and a few days since we delivered the first batch of e-letters.

The business continues and demand for our work is high.  The lack of lit agents in the ecosystem does not diminish that demand, it only reroutes the flow of information and opportunity.  So please continue to share information and support your fellow writers.

Finally, we’d like to invite you to attend one of our May Wednesday Get-Togethers where some of the board and negotiating committee will be available to informally answer any questions you might have.  Hors d’oeuvres will be served.  RSVP here.

All of us have made a hard choice and taken the first step in righting a broken system.  But none of that will matter if we are not now prepared to fight whatever anxieties we may have and, instead, to allow our strategy to take effect.  The agencies’ greatest weapon will be to stoke our fears and test our strength.  We’ll need to continue to lean on each other, to remember the reason we started this fight in the first place and the power we have — have always had — as writers. If we do those things, we will succeed.

In Solidarity,

WGA-Agency Agreement Negotiating Committee and WGAW Board and WGAE Council

This message came with an important addendum, which I believe all TV and film writers, even those who aren’t yet in the Guild, should read:

If you have any problems, questions, or concerns as a result of operating without an agent, contact agency@wga.org.  And don’t forget to check out the FAQ and Resources for writers.

Also on April 26th, members received this update:

Dear Members,

In its first month in operation, the Staffing Submission System has delivered thousands of writers’ samples directly to showrunners who are looking to hire. Writers are getting read. Show meetings are being set. Staffing season is unfolding without chaos – and without agents. While no online portal can take the place of a good representative, this system has successfully bridged an important gap.

We are now ready to expand access for the week before Upfronts.

On May 6th, all Current members will be able to make three more submissions. Please note that the system will not allow members to “bank” submissions. Whether you have used your first three submissions or not, your counter will reset to three total.

The system will be opened to all Associate and Post-Current members, who will also be able to make up to three submissions. The WGA’s Staffing Submission System is available to Guild members via myWGA portal on the Guild’s website.

We will be monitoring the system closely to ensure that it continues to provide writers looking for work and showrunners looking for writers with a valuable way to connect as we work toward a resolution with the agencies….


The Guild has uploaded an article called “An agent’s fiduciary duties to clients,” which helps explain our legal position. Members (and possibly others, I’m not sure) can read that article HERE

Writers Guild of America-Association of Talent Agents Saga Continues

by Larry Brody

The latest development, per the Writers Guild of America West Board of Directors:

Dear Member,

We are happy to announce the launch of the WGA’s Weekly Feature Memo.

Every Friday, the Guild will send out a list of available specs and pitches to producers and development execs, via a subscription email.

You simply submit your logline to the Guild. The submissions will be organized by genre. Any producer wanting to read your spec, hear your pitch, or set a general meeting will be able to contact you via a link to the Find-a-Writer Database.

The Weekly Feature Memo is available to Current, Post-Current and Associate Members. Each member can make up to two submissions a month.  Submissions received by noon Wednesday each week will be sent out each Friday (except for holiday weekends). Any submission received after the Wednesday deadline will be held for the following week.

The first edition will be sent out Friday, April 26, 2019.

You can find the submission form here.

You must be logged in to MyWGA to access the form and there is also a link in the MyWGA menu to the form.

In Solidarity,

WGAW Board of Directors

And from Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times culture columnist and critic:

In the early stages of the current war between the Writers Guild of America and the Assn. of Talent Agents, it was difficult for anyone who was not a writer or talent agent to get terribly worked up.

Screenwriters are not coal miners fighting for safety measures, and talent agents aren’t teachers who’d like to earn a decent living for once. This isn’t a strike; no one has to worry about late-night hosts ad-libbing through their scraggly beards.

But now? Now it’s gotten completely insane.

For those of you who haven’t been following, the WGA (for which, until recently, my husband worked as a magazine editor) wants the talent agencies to sign a new code of conduct to ensure the agents do their jobs — getting their clients the best deals possible — and that’s it. No using clients as part of an overall package deal or working with affiliated production companies; too often, the WGA contends, these practices result in writers getting shafted.

The ATA says the agencies will not be signing any such code because the WGA is not the boss of them and writers actually benefit from packaging, which has been going on for years.

So the WGA instructed its members to fire their agents, which almost all of them have, and announced it is suing the four major talent agencies.

In response, the ATA accused the WGA of trying to throw Hollywood into “predetermined chaos” and instructed its members to keep a list of any writers trying to get work without using an agent because, according to ATA reps, this is illegal.

So just to recap: Writers are unhappy with how major talent agencies have been repping them. When confronted with this, the agents refused to make any changes, so the writers fired them. Now the agencies are saying the writers cannot do this because, according to them, writers are legally boundto be represented by people who they believe are shafting them.

Even by Hollywood standards, this is Absolutely Insane….

Read it all at latimes.com


Let me repeat that last bit above. “Even by Hollywood standards, this is Absolutely Insane.”

As one lowlife, insignificant writer-serf to another, I gotta tell you, I’m feeling more like we’re trapped in Spartacus every day.

But our version of the film will have a much better ending. Because writers aren’t the powerless supplicant-rebels here. We’re the talent that no film or TV series can do without.

More than mere gladiators, we’re legionaries and we’re on the march.

In Solidarity,

LB & Team TVWriter™