Showrunners, Screenwriters Back WGA in Agency Battle, Sides to Meet Again Tuesday

Variety | 3/23/2019 | Dave McNary
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More than 750 showrunners and screenwriters have backed the WGA’s battle against talent agencies taking packaging fees and other changes to the rules governing the business relationship between agents and writers.

The letter of support issued Saturday is significant because of the immense clout showrunners and prominent screenwriters possess in Hollywood. Several showrunners had recently expressed reservations about the WGA’s hardball negotiating tactics and the potential disruption to business if a deal isn’t reached — leading to a March 20 meeting with several dozen showrunners at the WGA West headquarters. But the new missive makes it clear that showrunners want WGA leaders to be able to claim they’re representing a united front.

Signers - WGA - Efforts - Industry - Practices

The signers endorse the WGA’s efforts to reform decades-old industry practices involving agencies taking packaging fees on film and TV projects as well as other issues such as the expansion of the parent companies of the largest agencies into the production arena. As described in the letter by the WGA, the goal of the franchise agreement reform push is to:

“Confront practices that constitute a conflict of interest: agency packaging fees and agencies functioning as producers. Require the agencies to work with the Guild to protect writers’ interests by providing writer contracts, invoices and other information.”

Letter - Midday - Saturday - Weeks - Expiration

The letter was issued midday Saturday, two weeks prior to the expiration of the current franchise agreement on April 7. The WGA is demanding the elimination of agencies receiving packaging fees and having ownership interest in affiliate production companies — demands that the agencies have insisted are not feasible. The WGA and Association of Talent Agents are set to hold another negotiating session on Tuesday.

The signers include most of the prominent showrunners and film scribes in the industry, including Shonda Rhimes, Greg Berlanti, Seth MacFarlane, Jenji Kohan, Eric Roth, Barry Jenkins and David Koepp. Notable showrunners...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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