WME said today that it will continue its efforts to reach a deal with the WGA for a new franchise agreement even though the guild rejected its latest proposal to end their long-running legal battle over packaging fees and agency affiliations with corporately related production entities.
The guild rejected the agency’s latest proposal yesterday, saying that “WME has yet to grapple, in a serious way, with its own conflicts of interest.” The guild also enumerated several areas in which WME has been trying to cut a better deal than the one accepted by CAA earlier this month. WME is now the last major talent agency that has not signed onto the guild’s terms.
On Dec. 18, a federal judge overseeing their ongoing antitrust lawsuit urged them to settle the dispute before it goes to trial. “Come on folks. Get together. Get this done,” U.S. District Court Judge André Birotte Jr. told attorneys for WME and the WGA during a virtual hearing.
“WME presented an updated proposal that made a series of concessions just four days following our hearing on December 18,” WME said in a statement today. “We made clear our willingness to engage in further dialogue with the WGA at any point during the holidays. We know this is how every other agency finally reached a deal – they had the opportunity to have a discussion with the Guild to address their specific needs, and that is what we have continuously tried to do in an effort to get a deal done. However, instead of responding directly to us, once again we learned indirectly through media reports that our proposal was rejected by way of a leaked letter the WGA Negotiating Committee sent to Guild members. There was no counter to our proposal, nor any offer to meet and engage. While we find this tactic unhelpful in reaching a resolution, we will persist in our efforts toward reaching a new franchise agreement.”
WME has not made the terms of its latest proposal public, but Deadline has learned that they include WME’s agreement that it will sell down 80% of its interest in Endeavor Content – its production affiliate – while seeking to grandfather in anything that’s already in production completed as of the date of signing – as opposed to the sunset packaging date of June 30, 2022, that’s contained in the CAA agreement. WME also agreed that once Endeavor Content is sold, WME and Silver Lake Partners – its private equity owners – would not own more than 20% of it.
WME maintains that its affiliation with Endeavor Content is much different that CAA’s interest in wiip, CAA’s production entity. Endeavor Content had over 200 projects in development, financed, or put into production in the past year and has over 150 employees. Wiip, on the other hand, is much smaller in comparison. WME believes that trying to make the terms for wiip fit for Endeavor Content is unreasonable.
WME also believes that it can still reach a deal with the WGA if the two sides can engage in a conversation instead of fighting it out in the press.