UPDATED with additional info, full franchise agreement: Paradigm Talent Agency has signed a new franchise agreement with the Writers Guild of America, and will be able to resume representation of its WGA-represented writer clients immediately. The deal was announced by Paradigm chairman and CEO Sam Gores.
Paradigm becomes the first major talent agency engaged in television packaging to sign a new franchise agreement with the WGA. This comes after the agency last week made widespread “temporary layoffs” of around 100 agents, and Deadline has heard this includes some of its prominent lit agents. Those laid off were given no severance and an expansion of health benefits that only last until the end of April, as the agency responded to a complete drying up of commissions that come mostly from its music touring business.
The obvious question is how many lit agents are left who can take advantage of the move and try to win back the writer clients pushed by the guild to fire them when the WGA-ATA stalemate began.
Paradigm won certain concessions that better the terms of the WGA’s current franchise agreement that will be given to places like Verve, Gersh APA and Buchwald– all under a favored nations deal — most notably extending the “sunset” period for television packaging by six months to December 31, 2021 and doubling the allowable ownership interest in affiliate production to 10% from 5%.
Additionally, the new pact will run through April 2025, an extension of one year to the current WGA franchise agreement, while also preserving the agency’s right to terminate at any time following 45 days’ notice. (Read the full agreement here.)
The deal concludes a months-long negotiation with WGA leadership, which began with talks in mid-December 2019.
“Paradigm’s foremost mission is to serve the needs of artists and the art they create, and so we are excited to announce our new franchise agreement with the Writers Guild, which most importantly allows our agents to get back to representing our WGA member clients,” said Gores.
“The issues we had with the existing franchise agreement have been resolved in a way that allows us to shift our business model and to continue providing the high-level comprehensive representation service Paradigm is known for. I want to add that the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic on our industry have brought this new franchise agreement into much sharper relief for us. When we began our negotiations with the WGA leadership, we could not have imagined how the world would change, but we feel fortunate that we can now do our part as we face these new challenges.”
On the TV lit front, Paradigm said it currently has more than 30 packaged series on the air and in production including The Masked Singer, Black-ish, Grown-ish, The Chi, NCIS: Los Angeles, Evil, Why Women Kill and The Good Fight among others.
“Following weeks of discussion, the WGA and Paradigm Talent Agency have agreed to a new franchise agreement,” the WGA told its members today. “Paradigm was the fifth largest agency representing writers, and as of today may once again represent WGA members for covered writing services.”
It added: “Our goal remains to move the negotiation process forward with the remaining unsigned agencies. We will let you know when there are further developments. Please stay safe.”