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No deal: Hollywood writers and talent agents at an impasse over ‘packaged deals’

The Hollywood sign.
The Hollywood sign.
David McNew/Getty Images

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On Friday, negotiations between the Writers Guild of America and the agencies who represent writers failed to reach a conclusion.

According to the WGA, the agreement signed in 1976 (Artists’ Managers Basic Agreement) by both parties that regulated how agents represent writers is out of date. Specifically, the WGA takes up the issues of agencies charging studios packaging fees and agencies’ involvement in the production business.

Writers say agencies have a conflict of interest when they benefit from or act as studios. The Association of Talent Agents have argued that these are artist-friendly studios that help writers get bigger paychecks by adding the number of potential buyers. While minor agencies have signed the new code of conduct, the WGA and ATA have each represented a united front.

We reached out the Writers Guild of America. They were not able to join us.

We also  reached out to the Association of Talent Agents. They declined our request for an interview, but sent this statement from executive director Karen Stuart, dated April 12, 5pm.

The WGA leadership today declared a pathway for compromise doesn’t exist.  Agencies have been committed to reaching an agreement with the WGA but, despite our best efforts, today’s outcome was driven by the Guild’s predetermined course for chaos. The WGA is mandating a “Code of Conduct” that will hurt all artists, delivering an especially painful blow to mid-level and emerging writers, while dictating how agencies of all sizes should function. We came to the negotiating table in good faith and put forth comprehensive proposals providing choice, disclosure, transparency, shared revenue and a significant investment in inclusion programs. Unfortunately, not to our surprise, the WGA did not accept our offer, did not provide counter proposals and refused to negotiate further. We're prepared to continue to fight for the best interests of writers and all artists.


Dominic Patten, senior editor and chief TV critic at Deadline Hollywood; he tweets @DeadlineDominic

Claire Best, owner and CEO of Claire Best & Associates, a boutique talent agency based in Hollywood, representing various clients including writers, directors, producers, production designers and more

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