UPDATED with WGA statement: The Association of Talents Agents has fired back at the Writers Guild, claiming that the WGA’s attempts to “divide” the agency business to kill off packaging deals and force them out of the production business is filled with “misinformation and myths.”
WGA West president David A. Goodman issued a statement to Deadline in response this evening. Read it below.
In an email today to her members, ATA executive director Karen Stuart blasted the guild’s proposed new Code of Conduct governing the relationship between writers and their agents. “Let’s be clear,” she wrote, “the WGA’s ‘Code’ is not about agents’ conduct. Their proposals are a sweeping attempt by the WGA to remake the entire industry, restraining not only the business of agencies and their affiliates but also interfering with the livelihoods and businesses of producers, actors, directors, and studios. The ATA will continue to advocate for all our clients, including writers, and will reject the guild’s self-described ‘power grab’ that will harm not only their own members but others throughout the entire industry.” Read the full letter here.
The WGA says it will put its proposed Code of Conduct to a vote of its members on March 25 and that it will implement it unilaterally if ongoing negotiations with the ATA fail to reach a new agreement on April 6.
“I want to remind you,” Stuart told the agencies, “that while we are frustrated right now with where things stand with the WGA, we have not forgotten how we’ve worked closely together with the guild for many decades in supporting them through various challenges and campaigns to benefit writers. The WGA has a role — just like agencies do — in ensuring writers have the best possible work experiences, and we remain committed to collaborating on an agreement that will allow us collectively to serve and advocate for our clients’ best interests in today’s Hollywood.
“As for the WGA’s attempt to divide our membership with misinformation and myths and their unilateral attempt to impose what they are calling a ‘Code of Conduct,’ be assured that ATA will respond,” Stuart continued. “When we respond to the WGA, we will be writing on behalf of each and every one of you, the writers’ biggest advocates along with their guild.”
The WGA’s Code, if adopted, seeks to revolutionize the agency industry, and would return the Big Four agencies to a business model that hasn’t existed in decades.
Here is Goodman’s response to the ATA’s letter:
“The WGA is focused on only one thing: fixing problems that hurt writers. The necessary changes may come through either negotiations or a Code of Conduct. We’re open to both. As it is, we gave the ATA our opening proposals over 320 days ago and they still have not provided any formal responses, as is standard in negotiations. The agents aren’t treating our concerns with any urgency; they attack us and it feels like they’ve forgotten that the Guild’s members and leadership are made up of their clients.”