EXCLUSIVE: This is one of those stories where I don’t want to put the kibosh on possible progress by reporting on it. But I also need to post news as it comes to me. I just learned tonight that certain Hollywood agents are “really in the middle of this right now.” A source tells me that a partner in one of the major tenpercenteries is having “much conversation” with WGA negotiating committee topper Dave Young. At the same time, a partner at a different major agency is talking to AMPTP president Nick Counter. (For the moment, I’m not going to reveal the names of the agents involved.) Together, the agents’ goal right now is to just bring both sides back in touch with one another. A phone call is about to happen, or may have already happened, between Young and Counter today, I’m told. “Apparently, there will be a chat,” the source said. I’m told the agents involved are “encouraged by the activity today.” There’s also hope the agents can help clear away side issues and facilitate the re-start of settlement talks, now at a standstill.
Back on November 7th, I expressed the opinion in my post, It’s Time To Seriously Solve This Strike, that Hollywood should “Bring On The Agents.” Let me excerpt what I wrote: “For crissakes, these people negotiate for a living on behalf of clients like the writers. And they’re licensed by the state. And they make multi-million dollar deals based on their word. They could, under the auspices of their Association of Talent Agents, mediate this dispute. Look, I respect these guys. I have confidence that they could work out a proposed settlement lickety-split which at least could provide the basis for bargaining.”
Late last week, I was tipped about a secret meeting Thursday between the WGA and key partners of Hollywood’s five major agencies, but told only on the condition that I not write about it. So I didn’t. Then I picked up Friday’s Los Angeles Times and saw a Business section story about it. The truth is, there was nothing especially newsworthy that came out of that meeting.
WGA president Patric Verrone and chief negotiator Young conferred with CAA’s Bryan Lourd, United Talent’s Jim Berkus, William Morris’ Jim Wiatt, ICM’s Chris Silbermann, and Endeavor’s Rick Rosen. It wound up being more of an informational confab where the agents shared their concerns on behalf of their clients and offered their help and support to get both sides back to the bargaining table. The tenpercenters said it had been the worst week they’d ever had as agents, especially dealing with striking clients who’d been threatened with lawsuits, or suspended, or crying on the phone out of fear for what would happen to them. With negotiations at a standstill, the agency partners offered to do anything possible as a “collective resource.”
My understanding is that this latest activity I describe is a direct outgrowth of that meeting but involves just a few of the participants. Please, may they make progress.