2ND UPDATE, 1:15 PM: Two developments on CAA and WGA. CAA has ended its legal battle with the guild today, notifying U.S. District Court Judge Andre Birotte Jr. that it “hereby withdraws its Motion for Preliminary Injunction as it has reached a settlement with Defendants and Counter-claimants Writers Guild of America West, Inc. and Writers Guild of America East, Inc. and has been franchised by the Guilds.”
WME, now the lone agency which has not buried the hatchet with WGA over packaging and affiliated production companies, issued this statement in the wake of CAA and WGA deal: “We have reached out to the Guild to learn more about the specific terms of their agreement with CAA, but we think today’s news is a positive development and suggests a path forward for WME to reach an agreement as well.”
EARLIER EXCLUSIVE: Deadline hears that CAA and WGA has reached an agreement that will bring writer back into the agency fold.
UPDATE: We’ve just gotten confirmation from the agency, that it has found common ground with WGA, ending a long stalemate.
“CAA and the WGA have concluded and signed a franchise agreement confirming CAA can resume representing writers and continue the important work of helping them realize their ambitions. We end this year of unprecedented global challenges with the optimism and energy that today’s news brings, starting now, and for the years ahead.”
This ends a protracted, ugly stalemate over packaging and affiliated production company ownership that prompted the WGA to demand that its membership fire their agents. Such a development was expected to happen sometime this fall.
The two sides came close to a deal in September, when CAA announced internally that it had reached an agreement with the WGA, agreeing to end packaging and limit ownership in production company to 20%, except for a couple of points having to do with affiliated production company wiip. The gild at the time disputed CAA’s account, insisting that they had not accepted CAA’s terms.
CAA had taken the preemptive step of placing its affiliated production company — wiip — in a blind trust. WGA had an issue with the blind trust and demanded more detailed ownership information.
This leaves WME the last major agency to not reach agreement with WGA. The agency has certainly been trying, and has agreed to the basic terms, but the discrepancy has been in the amount of time that Endeavor will have to sell off 80% of its production company Endeavor Content.
The deal with the WGA puts CAA in along with half of the members of The Big Four — UTA and ICM Partners — which signed their deals earlier, and along with other agencies including Verve, Paradigm, Gersh, APA and others signed with the WGA and all of the agencies agreed to favored nations terms.
Many CAA-repped writers will find this to be good news, at least those who had to fire their agents while this battle was fought over a year. Expect the writer client roster to swell at CAA, in a bit of good news in the days leading up the holidays and the end of the worst year anyone in Hollywood can remember. Presumably, the long legal battle that CAA has waged against WGA will go by the wayside, also.
If WGA and WME can end their stalemate, it will give the guilds and all talent advocates the opportunity to focus on a major emerging crisis: the move by theatrical feature films to streaming sites, which changes the definition of back end payouts due writers, filmmakers and talent. A template will be needed as such deals become more commonplace, and the end of divisiveness between agencies and WGA West can only help.
As for WME: On Nov. 18, the guild told its members that for the past few months, it had been “engaged in an ongoing and sometimes productive negotiation with WME in order to resolve their various conflicts and to provide them a path forward to signing the UTA/ICM Franchise Agreement. Four weeks ago, WME asked for contract language from us and, in return, the Guild repeated its prior request for additional information on their corporate structure in order to provide them with such language. They have been silent since.”
Those talks stalled, the guild said last month, when WME joined CAA in seeking to end the legal standoff “not by picking up negotiations where they left off a month ago—not by looking to resolve their own conflicted practices—but, instead, by once again asking the courts to deny the Guild’s basic right to represent its members in collective action. That is not a way forward.”
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.