Instead of dealing with the Association of Talent Agents directly, the guild says that it now intends to negotiate separately with the nine major agencies that represent writers: WME, CAA, UTA, ICM Partners, Gersh, APA, Paradigm, Kaplan Stahler and Rothman Brecher.
Flatly rejecting the ATA’s last proposals for a deal, the WGA said that its next steps “will include the guild making a new offer to individual agencies.”
The guild has said all along that its goal is to “divide and conquer” the agencies, but so far it has had little success. Verve, the only major agency to sign the guild’s Code of Conduct – which bans packaging fees and requires agencies to sever their ties with corporately affiliated production companies – is not an ATA member.
Whether any of the ATA’s member-agencies will be willing to sit down separately with the guild is uncertain, but one thing is clear: The Big 4 agencies that the guild is suing for conflicts of interest – WME, CAA, UTA and ICM – are not going to break ranks anytime soon. In the meantime, nearly all of the more than 7,000 WGA members who fired their agents April 12 on orders from the guild are scrambling to make deals without any agents who refused to sign the WGA’s Code.
The guild has said that a review of the 2016-17 television season found that 87% of the more than 300 series produced that year were packaged by the agencies, and that “packaging is dominated by WME and CAA,” which the guild said accounted for 79% of all the packaged series.
Verve and any smaller agency that breaks ranks, if it comes to that, wouid not be able to fill that gap. For now, packaging is dead – and it will remain so for a long time unless the guild backs down, which it has shown no signs of doing.
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