Hours after the Writers Guild of America (WGA) released a coruscating report, the Association Of Talent Agents (ATA) on Tuesday (12) offered a set of counter proposals to the WGA’s call for an end to conflicts of interest at the Hollywood talent agencies as the parties resumed fractured negotiations.
As the April 6 expiry date for the current agreement between the parties looms closer, the ATA issued a ‘Statement of Choice’ in which it pledged that writers would never be required to work on a show packaged by an agency unless they consented to do so, and that the agency should always follow the client writer’s directive.
ATA president Jim Gosnell told WGA negotiators that his group was offering a “reasonable, realistic and fair solution to a very complex issue” that followed consultation with “hundreds” of film and TV writers, lawyers, managers and other interested parties.
The move came hours after the Guild released its report condemning agency packaging fees and the rise of agency-affiliated production entities.
The WGA issued a response in which it called the session “a small step forward for the parties”, and said all major issues were still on the table heading into a scheduled follow-up meeting on Thursday (14), when the Guild will make a counter proposal of its own in specific contract language.
The WGA noted that while the ATA spoke of individual writer’s choice, writers already have the choice not to participate in a package. “Their proposals require each individual to respond to a powerful agency – that is virtually no choice at all. The solutions in the new agreement need to be collective through the Guild, not individual.”
Among other points, the ATA’s ‘Statement of Choice’ said: agents would inform clients of the existence of a package before submitting a writer client to work on project where it has already been granted a packaging fee; and allow creators designated as a packageable element to choose whether or not their script shall be packaged.