The US Writers Guild of America (WGA) on Friday (October 16) wrote to CAA and WME outlining what steps the heavyweight agencies need to take to become franchised by the guild.
The letter, available on the WGA’s website, seeks to end a tortuous series of failed negotiations, legal action concerning the thorny issue of packaging fees and agency ties to production entities.
The WGA wants agencies to sign on to its latest version of the Artists’ Manager Basic Agreement that among other things seeks to remove any conflict of interest between writers and their agency.
CAA and WME remain the last two Hollywood agencies not to agree to the guild’s proposals to end packaging fees on writing services by July 2022, and lower the ownership threshold on production entities to 20%.
Despite a statement from CAA last month saying it had reached a deal, the guild hit back to say no deal had been done.
Verve agency signed on to the guild’s latest franchise agreement in May 2019, followed by ICM Partners and UTA over the summer.
Claiming CAA and WME are “more deeply conflicted than any of the other agencies” – CAA has ownership interest in wiip and WME has ownership of Endeavor Content – the letter signed by the WGA agency negotiating committee struck a firm note
“We have been clear with them from the start that we will not make a deal with them that undercuts the gains this campaign has achieved. Everything we ask from them today is necessary to ensure that writers are protected: which means that the agencies divest to the 20% limit in a timely fashion – that they remain divested – and that we can verify their compliance.”
The letter went on, “Preexisting projects cannot be exempted from the limitations on financial interest beyond 20%. We allowed preexisting packages to survive because requiring all writers to pay back commission in order to undo already packaged projects would not have been a tenable solution. There is no such parallel with affiliated ownership. What’s more, this requirement of full divestment to 20% ensures that there is no residual conflict inherent in agency-owned studio projects.