WGA Releasing Report on Big Four Agencies’ “Conflicted and Illegal” practices.

For those not in the know, which probably means most of you, the Writers Guild of America, both West and East sub-headings, has been negotiating a new agreement with the Association of Talent Agents…and the road hasn’t been smooth.

Now it looks like it’s about to get even bumpier:

by David Robb

The WGA said Friday that it will release a new report Tuesday “detailing the Big Four talent agencies’ conflicted business practices that harm Hollywood’s writers.”

The guild’s announcement comes as the WGA and the Association of Talent Agents have been talking about returning to the bargaining table next week to resume negotiations on a new franchise agreement. It’s unclear how the report and accompanying press call will impact those discussions.

If and when they do get back together, it will be the first time they’ve met face-to-face since February 19. Their current agreement expires April 6.

The WGA report, titled “No Conflict, No Interest,” comes as the entertainment business “finds itself in its most profitable period in its history,” the guild said. “As industry profits have soared, billions in outside investment has flowed into the biggest talent agencies that have become singularly focused on expanding their bottom line, often at the expense of the clients.”

By once again singling out the Big Four agencies – WME, CAA, UTA and ICM Partners – who do most of the packaging, the guild appears to be attempting to drive a wedge between them and the smaller agencies represented by the ATA that don’t do packaging deals.

“The conflicted and illegal practices of the major agencies,” the guild said today, “include demanding direct payment from the studios employing their clients, known as ‘packaging fees’ and leveraging their exclusive access to talent to become producers, making them their client’s representatives and their employers.”

“These conflicts of interest,” the guild said, “are at the center” of its stalled negotiations with the ATA. The two main sticking points to an agreement are the WGA’s demand that agencies give up packaging fees and sever all ties with their affiliates that invest in companies that produce content, such as WME with Endeavor Content, CAA with WIIP, and UTA with Civic Center Media.

The guild will be holding a vote of its members March 25 to adopt a new Code of Conduct that would ban packaging fees and agency production deals with affiliated entities….

Read it all at DEADLINE.COM

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