Magazine article Screen International

UTA, Writers Guild of America Break Deadlock

Magazine article Screen International

UTA, Writers Guild of America Break Deadlock

Article excerpt

Agency agrees to end packaging in two years if at least one other major agency agrees to do same.

UTA and the Writers Guild Of America (WGA) have agreed a new franchise agreement, marking a breakthrough in the long fight between the Guild and at least one of the top Hollywood agencies.

Both sides have ended their lawsuits against each other although it does not end legal action between the Guild and CAA and WME.

Furthermore, UTA has agreed to end packaging in two years’ time on the condition that at least one other major agency agrees to do the same.

The WGA said in the interim period packaging would only be permitted with the informed consent of the writer.

Packaging has become in recent years a key part of agency business and fees earned from the practice has been a bone of contention between the WGA and the agencies.

Wednesday’s development (15) comes after months of back channel talks after UTA co-president Jay Sures contacted the Guild.

For the agency, the deal means it can bring its WGA-affiliated writer clients back into the fold after the Guild instructed members to fire their Hollywood agents. The agency will continue to safeguard the confidential information of its clients.

UTA will keep its role in its existing production entities and cap its minority profit participation and not launch any majority-owned production studio, which Sures said in a letter to writer clients were “steps we did not ever intend to take.”

The WGA agency negotiating committee told members on Wednesday, “Our goal remains to move the negotiation process forward with the remaining unsigned agencies.”

The full letter from UTA’s Sures appears below.

Dear UTA Writer Family,

At a time when good news is in demand, we have some. Today, UTA and the WGA have reached an agreement that resolves the dispute that has separated writers and agents for more than a year.

In this time of instability and uncertainty in our industry and world, we could not be more pleased to put this issue behind us and for our writer clients and agents to reunite as natural allies and partners.

Not long ago, UTA reached out to the WGA leadership, as we have done numerous times throughout this dispute, and made another effort to resolve this issue in good faith and through compromise. After many long discussions and significant work by both sides, we’ve successfully found middle ground that sets asides our core differences.

The Guild has achieved many of its main goals and UTA has as well. As the world continues to face down a pandemic and our industry remains under unprecedented pressures, we believed our highest priority was to bring writers and agents back together in joint focus on building and enhancing your careers. …

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