A room at Beverly Hilton was booked until midnight. But on Friday afternoon, it took only one hour to negotiate a treaty for disintegration and war between the Writers' Association of America and the best Hollywood Talent Agencies.
Co-Chair of UTA Jay Sures and Bryan Lourd of the CAA had a discussion with WGA Executive Director West David Young during Friday's meeting, as WGA representatives rejected a number of proposals submitted by ATA late on Wednesday. The WGA is considering instituting judicial proceedings against agencies due to conflicts of interest and a breach of fiduciary duty.
On Friday, the Guild fulfilled its promise to implement the Agency's new code of conduct, which prohibits agents representing members of the WGA in collecting packing fees and cooperating with agencies related to agencies, inter alia. The WGA and the Association of Talents Dealers are trying to implement a new franchise agreement, but the parties have tackled packaging, production and the extent of WGA's ability to regulate agencies representing their members. The WGA told its members to terminate their business ties with agents who did not sign an agreement on conduct from midnight PT.
After the WGA announced the implementation of the code, last week it shifted by six days, while the parties tried to agree on an agreement, and many Talent Agents reported that they received a steady, though not too large, flow of letters customer cancellations.
ATA's biggest step was to offer a small portion of its revenue from packing fees back to the guild to split among the lower paid members of the television program staff. WGA negotiators rejected the offer, saying they still did not address the issue of conflicts of interest in packaging. "This is not a serious proposal and we reject it," WGA Prime Minister West David Goodman said in a statement he made to members on Friday.
Sure, Young and Goodman had a tense moment when WGA representatives expressed a frequently repeated view that agents were no longer encouraged to fight for the high salaries of medium and lower-grade writers because they encouraged them to protect packing fees imposed by them paid by producers. At one point, Goodman, UTA's subscriber, asked if he was convinced that his representatives did not fight for him.
Similarly, Lourd CAA did not hold back his resentment when Young mentioned the packaging costs as a criminal offense for agents with a fiduciary responsibility towards their clients. Lourd replied that the guild's rhetoric was dangerous and spread the wrong information as part of his campaign to include his 15,000 members in the issue of franchising.
Another urgent problem was the association's request that agencies provide all employment contracts and transaction information for client writers. Sures has warned that several customers have notified UTA that they do not want to disclose this information. ATA suggested that the WGA disclose the contract as a condition for joining the guilds to exclude individual representatives. The WGA objected that the agencies did not accept the guild's competence to monitor economic issues for their members. At one point on Friday, disappointed Sures asked WGA representatives why such a compromise had to be "so difficult".
Negotiating groups reserved a meeting room for Beverly Hilton until midnight on Friday, but a meeting, which began at 15.00. PT ended shortly after 16.00. Half an hour later, WGA emailed to members of the message that a code of conduct would take effect from Saturday.
WGA asks members to use a specially created DocuSign link to send formal letter of cancellation to agents. It is commissioned to send these signed documents directly to the guides, for delivery to various agencies within a few days, in accordance with common WGA issues that were split on Friday.
It is not clear how the WGA intends to enforce the mandate of members to terminate their agents. It is also unclear how talents working as directors, producers, and actors will address the issue of representing the agency for work that does not fall into the field of writing. The Guild encourages members to reduce bindings in all areas in order to show maximum solidarity. Industrial observers will be watching next week how much or little agents do business.
The WGA has a draft lawsuit, which is ready to bring an action against companies in the ATA, confirmed by Young Sorta last week. It is expected that the ATA will invest in an earthquake. ATA previously claimed that it would not negotiate with the WGA if the Code of Conduct would apply.
Agencies have announced that regular business will be interrupted if WGA stops working. The WGA has compiled a database designed for writers to find open staff tasks and to assist representatives who are involved in the display. Famous writers have been working on internal networks via email and social media over the past couple of days to make it easier to find and interact with agents usually performed by them.