After CAA said on Monday (September 14) it had signed and delivered documents to reach a deal with the Writers Guild of America (WGA), the Guild responded by saying no deal has been signed.
The agency said it was moving forward on the thorny issues of film packaging and affiliated production entities, adding that a deal would allow the agency to resume representing writers – which would be the first time since April 2019.
However the WGA disputed CAA’s claim a deal had been struck, and sent the following reply to members: “This morning CAA sent a letter to the WGA’s law firm with a new proposal for a WGA franchise agreement. While we have had a few cordial discussions over the past months, this is the first time CAA has sent a written proposal. CAA has agreed to many of the current (ICM) agreement terms, including the packaging sunset period, and information-sharing.
”However, CAA also sent out a statement to the press and communicated with former clients saying they’d signed the franchise deal. This is not accurate. CAA has proposed changes to the agreement that the WGA has not – and cannot – agree to. Agreement will also depend upon reaching resolution of the lawsuits.
”The WGA will assess CAA’s offer, but not through the press. CAA remains unfranchised. The Working Rule 23 order remains in effect for CAA until the WGA officially notifies members otherwise. We will keep you informed of any new developments.”
CAA heads said in an internal email they had signed a deal that would be the same one signed several weeks ago by ICM Partners, which Screen understands bore the hallmarks of the deal UTA signed with the WGA, means only WME has not signed.
“By signing this agreement, we hope to begin immediately a new relationship with the Guild and its leadership,” the agency heads said in an internal memo. ‘We want to resume representing the writers who choose to be our clients.”
CAA leadership said they would comply within “a commercially practical time” with a proposed 20% ownership limitation on affiliated production companies and will do so in the case of wiip.
The agency also addressed film financing and said it wanted to ensure “any future process does not cause lost opportunities” for writers.
The internal memo read, “On the issue of agency involvement in film financing, we would like to understand the concerns the WGA has around our and others’ work in this vital area for all our clients, our business, and the industry, and what the WGA’s process is in respect to the raising of financing for movies with budgets over $50 million.
“In the past five years, CAA has secured financing and built critical partnerships for over 300 filmed projects, ensuring they would be made, distributed and marketed. As a result, countless writers’ work has been produced and thousands of jobs have been created.”
It remains to be seen what happens to the lawsuit filed by CAA and WME against the WGA amid the protracted battle with the Guild that was postponed due to the pandemic until next summer.
The memo continued, “There is obviously a lot of good that can come from simply committing to talk to each other regularly and with a common purpose. We want that. We are asking the WGA, even outside the terms of the franchise agreement, to formalize communication with our company on a quarterly basis going forward.
“The leaders of CAA will commit to organizing and participating in regular meetings with this guild and all guilds interested in doing so. We suggest these meetings begin as soon as the Guild is available to do so.”
Agency heads added, “We offer help in preparing for future negotiations with the AMPTP [Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers] and other emerging companies that will employ writers in the U.S. and around the world.
“As media platforms expand globally, the importance of all local content is obvious. How this guild and all guilds interact with those creators and those markets will determine the amount of leverage they maintain with the global media companies as we move forward.”
The memo concluded, “Finally, throughout this disagreement, agents and agencies, large and small, have been demonized and vilified. It’s too bad that some representatives of the WGA felt that was necessary. We do not accept those generalizations. There are many great agents across the industry who have chosen careers as writers’ representatives. They love writers and take their jobs seriously.”