The Creative Artists Agency has allegedly accused AMC’s The Walking Dead franchise of allegedly not paying dues owed to them, based on a previous contractual agreement. The very same legal clause –also known as packaging fees– many writers are currently challenging in the ongoing Writer’s Guild of America disputes.
Packaging fees — for those unfamiliar with the term — are apart of contract negotiations with big talent agencies and their clients, where a percentage of their client’s profits are required to be shared in the form of compensation. Effectively, leading to several instances where writers and creatives receive less pay for their services because agency representatives take a large share of profits before talent personally see any.
In the AMC lawsuit, allegedly “hundreds of millions of dollars” are missing in profits from The Walking Dead based on the CAA’s claims, which accuses series’ co-creator Frank Darabont of not properly crediting the agency for the packaging of the show’s creative elements.
The lawsuit is set to go to trial next year, despite AMC allegedly denying the company’s claims, downplaying the current investigation, and the exact nature of CAA’s involvement in the series as a whole. A representative for the network subsequently has allegedly made disparaging comments towards the agency, as the legal battle continues to heat up.
Recently, AMC’s attorney Orin Snyder has deposed witnesses from each side (Darabont and CAA) and has described packaging fees as being “similar to contract negotiations” and that no additional profit should be sought from the defendant once said negotiations are in place after being signed by both parties.
Plaintiff representative Dale Kinsella, provided a counter argument:
The reason for Kinsella’s obstruction is clear. Defendants have struck a raw nerve by exposing fundamental flaws in Plaintiffs’ case. Kinsella does not want Defendants to probe his clients’ contradictory positions on the MAGR [profits] definition. Even more, he does not want Defendants to expose the egregious conflict of interest between Darabont and his agents at CAA. The dirty secret in Hollywood is that talent agents often sell their clients down the river in exchange for bigger packaging fees for themselves. That is the subject of a pending lawsuit by the Writers Guild of America, of which Darabont is a member, against CAA and other talent agencies. That is what happened here, and Kinsella wants to shut down this inquiry.
In response, AMC has allegedly petitioned a judge to “intervene and bring witnesses back for depositions” so they will avoid being influenced by “irrelevant” questions without impediment.
Snyder further countered that AMC has “reason to believe that Plaintiffs’ claims may be based on Darabont’s misunderstanding of the rights his representatives secured for him — a misunderstanding created and/or advanced by CAA to hide their conflict of interest.”
As of now, CAA has the last word, adding in a statement that “AMC’s transparent effort to mask their own outrageous and harassing deposition conduct by filing an at best misleading letter directly with the court is yet another publicity stunt. Suffice it to say that AMC’s lead counsel, Orin Snyder, will have more than enough explaining to do when this matter is fully argued before the court.”