The Writers Guild has rejected the latest proposal from talent agencies in their ongoing feud, stalling negotiations and escalating the dispute. Back in April, thousands of Hollywood writers fired their agents over packaging fees, which are collected when bundling talent as a package to a studio or network.
WGAW president David A. Goodman expressed that any proposal that does not eliminate packaging fees is a dead end and cannot be accepted. Earlier this month, the talent agencies made an offer for writers to recent 2 percent of those fees. The rejection of the offer has caused negotiations between the WGA and the agencies to come to a swift halt, widening the divide between the two sides.
In a video emailed to the guild’s members, David A. Goodman said: “We remain at an impasse, and involved in a difficult but necessary struggle.” He added that the negotiating committee “made the decision to take revenue-sharing off the table. The simplest way to address this imbalance, and align our agents’ interest with ours, is to insist that we return to a commission-based system of compensation.”
The WGA has maintained the stance that packaging fees must be ended altogether, and the guild has sued four of Hollywood’s biggest talent agencies over the practice. One of the agencies, CAA, recently filed a motion to dismiss the WGA’s lawsuit against the agencies.
Negotiations have become more heated between writers and agencies, and Goodman has said that revenue sharing “does nothing to combat the abusive practice in which agencies seek to control access to lucrative packaging fees by manipulating who works on any given project, which is the dirty open secret of this business.”
Goodman said that instead of continuing to negotiate with the Association of Talent Agents — the organization that represents the agencies — the guild will talk directly with individual agencies, among them CAA, UTA, WME, ICM, Paradigm, Gersh, Rothman Brecher, APA, and Kaplan Stahler. According to Goodman, “We’re willing to meet with every agency that is willing to meet with us.”
At the end of the video, Goodman asserted, “No one wants this over more than me.” It remains to be seen whether or not the WGA will successfully abolish packaging fees, or if the decades-old practice will remain intact for years to come.