UPDATED with David Goodman response: ICM Partners has accused the WGA of dropping the lawsuit it had filed in state court against the Big 4 talent agencies because “WGA leadership knew their lawsuit against the agencies was about to be found baseless and be dismissed.” The agency on Tuesday claimed the guild dropped the suit “instead of incurring that embarrassment right before their election.”
UTA made a similar claim yesterday after the guild dropped the state suit and filed answers and counter-claims in the federal antitrust case that CAA, WME and UTA had previously brought against the guild.
“The present leadership of the guild is terrible,” ICM Partners attorney Marvin Putnam told reporters during a phone conference today. Even so, ICM said that “the time has now come for the WGA leadership and the agencies to work together in the best interest of writers.”
Added ICM Partners in a statement: “It is time for the WGA leadership to stop posturing and do their job—which is to negotiate a new agreement with the agencies that best serves their membership, in the face of industry consolidation that has created formidable behemoth entertainment conglomerates to negotiate with.”
Countering ICM Partners’ claim that the guild has refused to negotiate, WGA West president David A. Goodman said today: “We sent all of the unsigned agencies a counter-offer after our last meeting with the ATA. We’ve followed up with each of them multiple times since, in each case offering dialogue and meetings. Some have responded and some have not. With those that agreed to talk we made additional changes and a deal in July negotiations. For any of those who have not responded to blame the WGA for the lack of progress is nonsense. And if they choose not to make a deal the litigation will continue. The ball is in their court. We’re ready.”
The WGA has been at loggerheads with the Association of Talent Agents for more than four months over terms for a new franchise agreement. They haven’t met face-to-face since June 7 – nearly two months after the guild ordered all of its members to fire their agents who refuse to sign its new Code of Conduct, which bans packaging fees after one year and prohibits agency affiliations with corporately related production entities.
“Yesterday’s headlines obfuscate the truth of the WGA’s actions,” ICM Partners said. “The truth is, if the WGA leadership actually believed packaging was illegal, they would have welcomed the Court’s upcoming decision on the validity of their claims. But they know their claims are legally and factually wrong. Knowing this, they first sought a delay of the ruling until after their elections, and when that strategy failed, they withdrew their claims entirely. And while this is an unquestionable legal victory for the agencies, the ongoing costs to everyone in the industry mounts and is disheartening.
“Rather than negotiating a new agreement between writers and their agents, the WGA leadership instead has made outrageous claims of supposed criminal behavior—behavior that they had endorsed and profited from for decades, and brought damning lawsuits such as this—only to drop them on the eve of their resolution, and otherwise sought to create discord and conflict between writers and their agents—at the very time when they should be coming together to prepare for upcoming negotiations with the studios.
“It is time for the WGA leadership to stop posturing and do their job—which is to negotiate a new agreement with the agencies that best serves their membership, in the face of industry consolidation that has created formidable behemoth entertainment conglomerates to negotiate with.”
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