Hollywood writers and agencies go past the brink; mass firings begin – The Washington Post

Hollywood writers and agencies go past the brink; mass firings begin - The Washington Post

Hollywood writers begin firing their agents over fee dispute

(CNN)Hollywoods biggest labor battle in a decade is officially underway. The issue, as is usually the case, is money.

Refresh for more updates. After the WGA and ATA failed to reach an agreement, writers and showrunners started posting their letters terminating their working relationship with their agents. Damon Lindelof and Hart Hanson are the latest to post their letters joining a mass of other top industry names including Steven DeKnight, Alexi Hawley, Tim Doyle and Chrissy Pietrosh. Most are very cordial to their agents but not the wire creator David Simon who has been outspoken.

Dave McNary Film Reporter @Variety_DMcNary FOLLOW Dave's Most Recent Stories Patton Oswalt, David Simon, Danny Zuker, More WGA Members Post Termination Letters Mindy Kaling, Priyanka Chopra Teaming on Wedding Comedy for Universal Film News Roundup: Leslie Jones, Kristen Bell Starring in Coupon Story ‘Queenpins’ View All Facebook Twitter Reddit Email Show more sharing options LinkedIn WhatsApp Print Pin It Tumblr CREDIT: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/REX/S High-profile members of the Writers Guild of America, including Patton Oswalt, David Simon, Shawn Ryan, Michael Schur, John August, Amy Berg, Danny Zuker and many more have gone public with letters formally firing their agents in compliance with the WGA’s order to do so.

Related Story Writers Share Signed Termination Letters As Mass Firing Of Agents Begins After WGA-ATA Talks Fail

Lindelof, who is currently working on the forthcoming Watchmen adaptation for HBO, posted his letter to CAA on Instagram. My agents signed me in 1999,” he wrote. “When no one else believed in me, they did. For that, I will be forever grateful. Twenty years later, the business has radically transformed… as such, it is time to remember and reinstate the principle upon which “representation” is based. My agents have become my friends… I am relying on that friendship to persevere as we all move through a trying period of transition. As brutal as it is to send this letter, I UNEQUIVOCALLY stand with my sisters and brothers and my union. Only through collective action can we restore balance. #IStandWithTheWGA”

“As I said, we granted the week’s extension as a sincere effort to try to find a solution,” he said. “But it is clear to us that we are not appreciably closer. We are willing to continue meeting with you when you provide a proposal that truly addresses our expressed concerns, but our Friday deadline has arrived and we are moving forward with the implementation of our Code of Conduct and the enforcement of our WGA Working Rule 23.”

Hart took to Twitter posting his letter to WME, saying: “Standing with my Guild. #IStandWithWGA And I love my agent, Matt Solo. We’ve been friends for 21 years.”

The order from the WGA came down Friday night after negotiations between the guild and the Association of Talent Agents broke down. The WGA has sought to reform the longstanding industry practice of agencies receiving packaging fees on TV series and movies, among other rule changes. Hollywood’s largest agencies have refused to sign on to the WGA’s new Agency Code of Conduct, setting up the mass split of thousands of writers from agents.

#IStandWithTheWGA: Patton Oswalt, Megan Amram, and Other Writers Have Fired Their Agents

The form letter which was sent to each member to send to their agency read: “Effective April 13, 2019, if your agency has not signed a franchise agreement with the Writers Guild of America, whether in the form of a Code of Conduct or a negotiated agreement, under WGA rules I can no longer be represented by you for my covered writing services. Once your agency is again in good standing with the Writers Guild, we can reestablish our relationship. Thank you.”

The new Code of Conduct, approved by the WGA membership last month, includes the elimination of packaging and agencies’ affiliation with production entities, and all of the major agencies have said that they will not sign it.

WGA Members Take Stand Against Agencies, Post Termination Letters on Twitter

The form letter was linked in WGA’s missive to members this afternoon for each to sign electronically. The letter, the guild says, “in plain and respectful language accomplishes the task” of notifying the writer’s agency that they cannot represent him/her until they sign the new Code of Conduct. According to the WGA, the letter also protects the writers legally “in case there is a further commission dispute.”

Unions to Hollywood Writers: Fire Your Agents

My agents signed me in 1999… When no one else believed in me, they did. For that, I will be forever grateful. Twenty years later, the business has radically transformed… as such, it is time to remember and reinstate the principle upon which representation is based. My agents have become my friends… I am relying on that friendship to persevere as we all move through a trying period of transition. As brutal as it is to send this letter, I UNEQUIVOCALLY stand with my sisters and brothers and my union. Only through collective action can we restore balance. #IStandWithTheWGA

Few WGA members  seem happy that it’s come to this, but those speaking out on social media stand with the guild. In addition to Patton Oswalt, Megan Amram, and Jon Cryer, the scribes responsible for everything from “Big Fish” and “Broad City” to “The Bold Type” and “Empire” have informed their agents that “if your agency has not signed a franchise agreement with the Writers Guild of America, whether in the form of a Code of Conduct or a negotiated agreement, under WGA rules I can no longer be represented by you for my covered writing services.”

Standing with my Guild. #IStandWithWGA And I love my agent, Matt Solo. We've been friends for 21 years. pic.twitter.com/ZV7mcXdBWD

The Writers Guild left the negotiating table after extending its deadline with the ATA by six days last weekend, with the practice of agency packaging — which the WGA considers to be a conflict of interest that stagnates writers’ salaries — at the root of the conflict. The ATA agreement expired at midnight April 12, and is now replaced by a Code of Conduct that agents must abide by in order to represent WGA writers. The code forbids packaging, agents are not signing it, and that leaves the writers ending agency relationships.

Dammit. Just realized that the WGA-ATA midnight deadline is PST. So I have to stay up another three hours and one minute to send a pic of my naked ass to CAA. #WGA #UnionUnionUnion

It's hard to leave an agent when you're told you need one for years. But our agents don't make us. Most don't even want to sign us until we've already built a name/contacts. So without them, we'll go back to the hustle and community building we've always done. #IStandWithTheWGA

I love my agents at CAA. Wouldn't be where I am without their support and encouragement. I look forward to working with them again once their agency signs the Code of Conduct and eliminates the inherent conflict of packaging fees. #ClientsOverConflicts #IStandWithTheWGA pic.twitter.com/CZ8Om2KqMd

I love my film agent like family. Hes the first & only one Ive ever had. Hes honest, loyal & kind. I know our relationship always comes before the agency. I cant imagine my life right now without everything hes done for me the last ~14 years.

I love my agent, I love my work. But Im a union man. #IStandWithTheWGA pic.twitter.com/tfrcHiT1QK

My agent of 20+ years is a great friend and fighter for my career. I would give him a kidney tomorrow. But this isnt about him or any single agent. Until agencies put #ClientsOverConflicts we cant work together. Simple as that. #IStandWithTheWGA

I've had the same agent for almost 20 years. I owe him a lot. But I owe the writers who came before me and the ones who are still to come, so much more. #IStandWithTheWGA pic.twitter.com/2Ewtf3HoUG

Earlier Friday, ATA Director Karen Stuart reiterated the organization’s contention that WGA has not negotiated in good faith. “The WGA leadership today declared a pathway for compromise doesn’t exist,” she said in a response to the guild’s decision. “Agencies have been committed to reaching an agreement with the WGA but, despite our best efforts, today’s outcome was driven by the Guild’s predetermined course for chaos. The WGA is mandating a ‘Code of Conduct’ that will hurt all artists, delivering an especially painful blow to mid-level and emerging writers, while dictating how agencies of all sizes should function.

I have an amazing agency that represents me. But I have an even better guild which stands for me. #IStandWithTheWGA pic.twitter.com/LfIjjM7Sov

Look, I love my agent. I mean, Im not IN love with him… although there was this one time at The Palm where the light danced in his eyes and… anyway I 💯 support the stand my union is taking! #IStandwiththeWGA #UnionStrong #KONY2012 pic.twitter.com/rYzdM75zKx

“We came to the negotiating table in good faith and put forth comprehensive proposals providing choice, disclosure, transparency, shared revenue and a significant investment in inclusion programs,” she continued. “Unfortunately, not to our surprise, the WGA did not accept our offer, did not provide counterproposals and refused to negotiate further. We’re prepared to continue to fight for the best interests of writers and all artists.”

I hate that its come to this. I love my agents and I love my agency. But this isnt about that. This is about fighting for a system that works for all of us and not just for some of us. #ClientsOverConflicts #IStandWiththeWGA pic.twitter.com/iOQ7F4K0J1

ATA has steadfastly defended packaging, and the group contends that writers earn more money because of it; WGA disputes that assertion. In an attempt to resolve the dispute with the guild without losing the practice it says is essential to the agencies’ current business model, on Thursday the ATA proposed a revenue sharing deal, made public shortly after, in which agencies would share a portion of earnings from package deals with writers.

I'm one of those weirdos that really likes his agent, but I went ahead and did this anyway, because fair is fair. #IStandWithTheWGA pic.twitter.com/5c9l0tbmHz

As a result, a tough new code of conduct for talent agents, intended to end the practice of packaging, has gone into effect and guild members are being called upon to leave any agency that refuses to comply. The guild has provided members with a form letter through which members can inform their agencies that they can no longer represent them until they agree to the code of conduct. Those letters will then be sent in bulk to the agencies.

My agent hip pocketed me when she was an still an assistant. She attended my wedding. Shes one of the best there is. But the system needs to change. And the only way that can happen is with a show of union strength. #IStandWithTheWGA pic.twitter.com/fQztHIX8Rm

With TV staffing season in full swing, the WGA has launched a database for showrunners to post position openings in their writer rooms and for potential staff writers to apply for work. The guild is calling on writers to support each other during this period, particularly lower-tier writers and newer guild members who will have to find a foothold in the industry without an agent.

I didn't want to fire my agents. I REALLY like them. Plus, I need a job a month from now and I'm not sure having the phrase "Twitter do your thing" be my agent is gonna work. But I am pro-union, pro-labor, and pro workers getting a piece of the pie they make so #IStandWithTheWGA pic.twitter.com/XadUryPxNI

The other is agencies founding affiliated companies that create their own content; writers say this puts agents across the table from executives, making them colleagues and creating a conflict of interest. Agents responded by offering to share some back-end profits with writers and be more open in showing the WGA how their affiliate programs are "benefiting writers." But union bosses rejected the proposal. Agencies responded by accusing the WGA of nixing "a pathway for compromise" and preferring a strategy "that will hurt all artists, delivering an especially painful blow to mid-level and emerging writers," per the Hollywood Reporter. The WGA suggests writers use managers or lawyers to make future deals, which prompted agencies to say they might sue the guild. (Read more Hollywood stories.)  

WGA writer since 2007, my last 2 documentary features were WGA covered (yes, documentaries are written). #IStandWithTheWGA pic.twitter.com/I41KQmE4Oo

(Newser) – Welcome to Hollywood chaos. The Writers Guild of America notified its 15,000 members Friday to fire their agents after talks crumbled between the two sides, Variety reports. "We know that, together, we are about to enter uncharted waters," say WGA leaders. "…But it has become clear that a big change is necessary." At issue are two practices by major agencies that rankle writers: One is the old habit of packaging several writers from an agency's roster for a particular project, per the New York Times. Agencies then forego the usual 10% writer's commission and accept big fees from studios. But writers say this lets top agencies like William Morris, United Talent, and Creative Artists take money that rightfully belongs to them.

I genuinely love my agent. She's a champion and a friend. But I support my union and believe in this fight. It will be stressful but I can use my very good healthcare my union has provided me to talk to my therapist about it. #IStandWiththeWGA #ClientsOverConflicts pic.twitter.com/8IjAB0v0M5

I love my agents and I hoped it wouldn't come to this. But I stand with my Guild, I support my fellow writers, and I believe in this cause. Fixing systemic imbalances requires bold, collective action. #IStandWiththeWGA #ClientsOverConflicts pic.twitter.com/drM1nuQEMI

It's beyond unfortunate that it's come to this. Personally, I'm all kinds of wrecked and I said as much to my reps. None of us know what the other side of this looks like, but I hope to see them all there. pic.twitter.com/wOZOQja9Gu

A little disappointed that there wasnt a gif option available for doing this…regardless, #IStandWiththeWGA pic.twitter.com/4ikmWEP7fB

I sent my letter. I left WME3 years ago. Life and Work carried on. I like my current reps a great deal. But Ive seen enough to know life and work will carry on. It is in the nature of a story. One thing must give away to another eventually #IStandwiththeWGA


Posted in Hollywood