The WGA-ATA dispute over packaging prompted WME to hold town hall meetings all last week for its writers and other interested parties. Deadline got slipped this email that agency president Ari Greenburg sent out to all of the agency’s WGA-repped clients, after absorbing their input from the meetings. The agency is hoping to sit with the WGA at the bargaining table to create compromise.
From: Ari Greenburg
Date: March 2, 2019 at 1:20:30 PM PST
To: Undisclosed recipients: ;
Subject: WGA Client Update
This week WME hosted four town-hall meetings attended by hundreds of writers, and we spoke with many of you individually. Thank you to everyone who gave up their time to be there. These were healthy and constructive sessions, and clearly long overdue. They were not always easy conversations, but we came to a better understanding of your needs and concerns.
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We took away three themes:
TRANSPARENCY – We heard that you want continued transparency and choice. We will put additional business practices in place to ensure that you have all of the information needed to make the right decision for you, especially when it comes to packaging and working with our affiliated companies.
DATA – We recognize that you cannot make an informed decision based on anecdotes and blind quotes in the press. We have taken your suggestion to compile our own data so that you have the facts. We’ll have an update for you on this in the coming weeks.
COMMUNICATION – We learned that while many of you speak with your agent regularly, you also need to hear from your agency. We need to hold forums like this more often. As we mentioned, we will be hosting future open houses throughout the WGA negotiation and beyond. Stay tuned for information about upcoming dates. Additionally, you can reach out to email@example.com for any questions or comments on the current situation with the WGA, and for any other agency inquiries that go beyond your individual agent.
We heard that there is fear, anxiety, and uncertainty about the future. Despite 1000 television shows, and the megadeals we read about in the trades, this is a challenging time for some writers having to adjust to new economics created by market forces including massive media consolidation and changing television models.
We are aligned with you and your guild in finding solutions to this issue. However, we do not believe the answer is getting rid of packaging fees and affiliate production, which brings jobs and opportunities to writers. We believe the answers can be found when we have the ability to engage in a real dialogue with guild leadership, much in the same way that we did with you this week.
As we told you in these meetings, we will never ask you to leave your guild.
But, we do encourage you to ask your guild leaders to come to the table. We need you, the writers, to speak up. Please remind your guild leadership that a “no compromise” edict on packaging and production is not a negotiation. We need the WGA to commit to a good faith negotiation that allows both sides to get the issues out in the open, come to a conclusion, make a deal, and get back to work.
These are the questions we ALL need to answer:
Packaging: Will writers be better off if packaging fees and affiliate activity were to go away, as the guild proposal suggests?
Will an individual writer make more money?
Will the WGA in total make more money?
Specifically, will writers who have seen wages stagnate make more money?
Affiliate Production: Will writers be better off if affiliate production were to go away, as the guild proposals suggests?
Will the major studios adapt progressive business terms like affiliates?
Who will handle film sales and financier representation?
Who will make the award-winning film and television projects, and the mid-budget adult dramas currently made possible through agency affiliates?
Why are more jobs and options for writers a bad thing if they have a choice?
We look forward to answering these questions and exchanging information with the WGA. We are ready, willing, and able to meet with them as long as all of the proposals are on the table. In the meantime, know that we love our writers and will continue to advocate for your best interests. We are ready for a real conversation driven by facts and data.
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