The long standoff between the WGA and the Big Three talent agencies could go on much longer. The two sides in a court filing Friday have proposed a trial start date of March 2021 for their legal showdown that has already lasted more than eight months.
The filing, which includes a scheduling worksheet (read it here) that suggests the trial could last 20 days, comes after U.S. District Court Judge Andre Birotte Jr. earlier this month indicated he’ll refuse to throw out the federal antitrust lawsuits filed by the agencies — CAA, WME and UTA — against the Writers Guild of America.
A scheduling conference in the case is set for January 10.
The legal battle stems from the WGA ordering of its members in April of this year to fire their agents en masse who refused to sign its Code of Conduct, which originally banned packaging fees and agency affiliations with related production entities. Since then, the guild has modified its code to allow signatory agencies to continue packaging until Jan. 22, 2021 – and even longer if it doesn’t get two of the Big Four agencies to sign up. The latest version of the guild’s deal also allows agencies to own up to 5% of an affiliated production entity.
All three agencies have made similar claims against the WGA. In its lawsuit, CAA alleges that the WGA “has organized a group boycott and unlawful restraint of trade targeting CAA and other talent agencies.
The WGA filed its original lawsuit against the agencies in state court on April 17, and the CAA, WME and UTA countered with their antitrust lawsuits in June. On August 19, the guild withdrew its state case and filed counter-claims in the agencies’ federal antitrust case.