EXCLUSIVE: The Association of Talent Agents met yesterday with the heads of the top agencies to “talk about our proposals and refine them” in advance of Friday’s resumption of negotiations with the WGA for a new franchise agreement, an agency source told Deadline.
The Monday meeting, held at the offices of Latham & Watkins, the ATA’s attorneys, included reps from CAA, WME, UTA, ICM Partners, Paradigm, Gersh, APA and Kaplan-Stahler.
The meeting, one of many in recent weeks, was held “to make sure that everyone is on the same page” going into Friday’s talks, said an agency source, who noted that the agencies remain united in their resolve to reach a negotiated settlement with the guild, and in their refusal to sign the WGA’s new Agency Code of Conduct in its current form. The code bans packaging fees and agency affiliations with related production companies and requires agencies to share client contracts.
The source said that the agencies are prepared to make the guild an offer to settle the standoff, now in it’s 53rd day. “Hopefully, they will be willing to negotiate now,” the person said of the WGA leadership. “But it’s hard to predict.”
Friday’s meeting between the ATA and the WGA will be their first since negotiations for a new franchise agreement broke off April 12. The next day, the guild ordered all of its members to fire their agents who refuse to sign the code.
To date, only one smaller ATA member – Pantheon – has broken ranks and signed the code. Verve, which is not an ATA member, also signed a modified version of the code. To date, 70 other smaller agencies have also signed.
The WGA has said that “over 7,000” of its members have sent form letters of termination to the agents, but hasn’t provided an update on those numbers since April 22. At that time, the guild said its records showed that 8,800 of its current members had agents.
Writers who stay with agents who refuse to sign the code could face disciplinary hearings. At yesterday’s ATA meeting, however, reps from each of the agencies said that “nobody is reporting any disciplinary action,” the agency source said.