UPDATED: CAA has signed a franchise agreement with the Writers Guild of America, Variety He learned.
According to a statement sent by the agency, CAA accepted the same terms agreed by ICM when it signed an agreement with the WGA in August, namely to end the practice of packaging tariffs within two years. However, CAA is asking for a warning regarding its subsidiary manufacturing company, wiip.
“We have delivered the signed agreement to the WGA and we assume it will be distributed shortly to the appropriate members of the negotiating committee as well as members,” the statement read. “” There is a change we have provided that we think the WGA will be able to accept. Regarding our investment in the related manufacturing company, wiip, we are providing commercially viable time to comply with the 20% ownership limit. contained in the agreement. We are unequivocally committed to achieving compliance. “
The full statement can be read below. It is unclear at this time whether the WGA will agree to the CAA̵
If they accept the deal, all major talent agencies, except WME, will have reckoned with the WGA on issues like packaging fees and affiliate production.
This means the WGA is nearing victory in a battle that began in April 2019 when WGA President West David Goodman instructed guild members to fire their agents if they didn’t sign a code of conduct banning packaging. and other practices. All that remains to be seen is whether WME will reach a similar agreement. WGA leadership announced in September that it would offer neither CAA nor WME better terms than those agreed with other agencies.
Prior to today’s news, ICM Partners was the last of the big 4 agencies to sign with the WGA. Previously, UTA was the first to conclude a deal in July. Both agencies agreed to end the packaging practice within two years and to limit their ownership of manufacturing entities. Over 100 agencies, including Paradigm, APA, Gersh, Innovative Artists, and Verve, have signed deals with the WGA.
Signing a deal with CAA is a big win for the WGA, but the move isn’t entirely surprising. Hollywood agencies have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with permits, layoffs, and reduced wages across the board. With production and live events completely closed and writers being virtually the only segment of the entertainment industry still able to work during quarantine, agencies found themselves without access to the only group of clients that could potentially bring money when they needed it most.
Likewise, agencies have seen a number of high-profile departures, as numerous agents have switched to existing management companies or started their own in search of greener pastures. Peter Micelli, a former CAA agent who recently stepped down as Entertainment One’s chief strategy officer, has launched Range Media Partners alongside several defectors from several major agencies. Elsewhere, WME partner Phillip Sun teamed up with Charles D. King of Macro to found a new venture called M88. It has already attracted a number of great clients such as Michael B. Jordan, Idris Elba and Donald Glover.
DECLARATION OF THE CAA:
Today we signed the same agreement that the WGA did with ICM several weeks ago.
We have delivered the signed agreement to the WGA and we assume it will be distributed shortly to relevant members of the negotiation committee as well as members.
There is a change we have provided that we think the WGA will be able to accept. Regarding our investment in the wiip related production company, we are providing a commercially viable time to comply with the 20% ownership limit contained in the agreement. We are unequivocally committed to compliance.
On the issue of the agency’s involvement in financing the film, we would like to understand the concerns that the WGA has about our work and others’ work in this vital area for all our clients, our business and industry, and what the WGA process with respect to raising funding for films with budgets in excess of $ 50 million. Over the past five years, CAA has secured funding and built critical partnerships for over 300 filmed projects, ensuring that they would be made, distributed and commercialized. As a result, countless writers’ jobs have been produced and thousands of jobs created. We want to ensure that any future process does not cause loss of opportunity for WGA members and the entire industry. But to be clear, in order to expedite this deal, we accept its current wording regarding film funding and will work with the Guild to figure out what’s best to continue making such films.
The fact that CAA and WGA failed to resolve the larger dispute in a better way caused personal and professional damage to many relationships and cost the Guild and agencies millions of dollars. Countless opportunities have been lost for so many people. Although litigation is never our desired business strategy, in this case we hoped it would provide relatively quick direction to a court regarding disagreements with the WGA. Unfortunately, a pandemic has eliminated the possibility of a quick day in court.
We respect and recognize the great need for corporations and trade unions in our industry to look after the best interests of their members. We have worked side by side with WGA during the 45 years of our company existence. The affiliates that the agencies sponsored have complied with all applicable WGA requirements. Corporations have recognized the validity of packaging for decades. Writers have always had the choice of whether or not to participate in packages.
Our company works with writers, actors, directors and producers in television / streaming and film media. Many of these artists have multiple jobs in each respective field. Most of our clients are members of WGA, SAG / AFTRA, DGA and many other associations and corporations. We have an ethical and fiduciary duty to all these customers. We reaffirm our commitment to this responsibility and to successfully partner with the corporations of which our customers are members.
There is obviously a lot of good that can come from simply making a commitment to talk to each other regularly and with a common purpose. We want it.
We ask the WGA, even outside the terms of the franchise agreement, to formalize communication with our company on a quarterly basis in the future. AAC leaders will commit to organizing and attending regular meetings with this guild and all guilds interested in doing so. We suggest that these meetings begin as soon as the guild is available to do so.
Meetings can uncover specific, real-time issues between agencies and the Guild. We suggest sharing information with each other on current business trends on a regular basis, as new information constantly emerges in this new dynamic. We offer help in preparing for future negotiations with AMPTP and other emerging companies that will employ writers in the United States and around the world. As media platforms expand globally, the importance of all local content is obvious. How this guild and all guilds interact with those creators and markets will determine the amount of leverage they maintain with global media companies as we move forward.
On February 21, 2020, the federal judge who ruled on our case appointed a highly respected federal mediator that the Guild approved, named Gail Title. About six months ago, he contacted the Guild and the CAA to begin mediation. While the CAA immediately agreed to participate, the Guild did not and mediation never took place.
Time will tell whether the agreement the agency community has made with the WGA will be good for the Guild, writers, other artists, our companies and the community. What has never been questioned is that the solid reforms sought by the Corporation were worthy of consideration. However, good and solid reform in any relationship requires dialogue and factual information with assumptions shared by the parties involved. Unfortunately, to date that dialogue has not occurred between our agency and the WGA. With a new commitment to engagement, we hope to be able to avoid this destructive dynamic in the future.
If there are any outstanding issues in the future, Ron Olson and Anjan Choudhury of Munger, Tolles & Olson will join our legal counsel, Richard Kendall of Kendall, Brill & Kelly, as our representatives.
Eventually, throughout this disagreement, agents and agencies, large and small, were demonized and vilified. It is unfortunate that some WGA representatives have found this necessary. We do not accept these generalizations. There are many great agents across the industry who have chosen careers as writers’ representatives. They love writers and take their work seriously.
Thanks to the many guild members who have tried to help solve this problem by maintaining professional relationships and friendships all the time. Thanks to Karen Stuart and the Talented Agents Association for the great service they provide to agencies of all sizes.
We are very proud of our company, the customers we work for and the lives we have chosen. We love work and try to make good things happen for our customers and the community. We will continue to do this and will always try to do it better.
By signing this agreement, we hope to immediately begin a new relationship with the Guild and its leadership. We want to resume representing the writers who choose to be our clients.