Crisis talks between the Writers Guild of America and the Association of Talent Agents have collapsed, and thousands of Hollywood writers have been ordered to fire their agents, leading to an unprecedented crisis for the US film and television industry.
You can read our breakdown of the whole situation here, but the very short version is that a forty-year-old agreement between the two groups ended this week, and they have failed to come up with a new one, in spite of months of negotiations and a week-long extension.
The Writers Guild recently came up with a new Code of Conduct, which seeks to eliminate a perceived conflict of interest by forbidding agents from taking what are known as “packaging fees”. As of midnight tonight, writers will be instructed to fire any agency that has not signed the code.
According to industry publication Deadline, that includes all of the ‘big four’ agencies – William Morris Endeavor, Creative Artists Agency, United Talent Agency and International Creative Management Partners – as well as a hundred other smaller ones.
Earlier today, the Writers Guild has sent a list of instructions to members, telling them to fire any agent that has not signed, and warning them of disciplinary action if they do not do so. In a letter to members, the Guild said:
“We know that, together, we are about to enter uncharted waters. Life that deviates from the current system might be various degrees of disorienting. But it has become clear that a big change is necessary. We will not only stand together, we will stand up for each other, lean on each other. We can do this.”
The Association of Talent Agents has angrily fired back, saying:
“The WGA leadership today declared a pathway for compromise doesn’t exist. 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.”
At the time of writing, 47 smaller agencies have agreed to work with the Guild and signed the Code of Conduct, so they may or may not be seeing an influx of new members come next week.