Creative Artists Agency, one of the largest talent agencies, signed a new agreement with the Writers Guild of America, ending a year-long standoff with the union representing many Hollywood screenwriters.
CAA, whose clients include the creators of “Game of Thrones,” had been one of the most outspoken opponents of the WGA’s proposals. But CAA agreed to many of the WGA’s demands, including an end to so-called packaging and reducing its ownership in a production company to below 20%. The WGA has now signed new agreements with every major talent agency except WME, an outcome that few in Hollywood expected just a few months ago. But the pandemic crippled production and the agencies’ ability to hold out. With musicians, actors and filmmakers at home instead of out making money, many have had to cut costs and fire staff.
Writers, who can work from home and sell projects for production at a later date, still generate income.
The four big talent agencies — CAA, WME, United Talent Agency and International Creative Management — had all balked at the guild’s demands, which included an end to packaging — deals in which agencies gave up a client’s commission in exchange for a share of a project’s profits.
The WGA has been trying to root out what it deems conflicts of interests at agencies, which have expanded from just representing actors and filmmakers into many related and unrelated businesses. Agencies said the guild was trying to interfere with the relationship between writers and their representatives, asking for information that they didn’t want to give out. They also resented the tactics of the guild, carping about its refusal to negotiate.
While CAA ultimately reached a deal, it criticized the way negotiations played out.
“The fact that CAA and the WGA couldn’t resolve the broader dispute in a better way caused personal and professional damage to many relationships and cost millions of dollars to the Guild and the agencies,” CAA said in the statement. “Countless opportunities were lost for so many people.”