As Writers Fire Their Agents, Agencies Vow to Fight "Chaos"

WGA vs ATA - H - 2019

With negotiations collapsed, the battle between the WGA and talent agencies enters uncharted waters.

As a Friday midnight deadline passed with no deal between the Writers Guild of America and the Association of Talents Agents, writers began firing their agents, with several dozen taking to Twitter and other social media platforms to advertise their disaffiliation from their representatives, some of long-standing. The WGA posted a new list of franchised agencies devoid of any large or medium-sized firms.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, the ATA sent a letter to its members, along with an FAQ and a voluntary set of “Agency Standards” for agencies to adopt in lieu of the WGA’s “Code of Conduct.”

“Agencies will not be a willing participant to any further chaos,” said the letter from ATA executive director Karen Stuart. “That’s the Guild’s plan. Their course of action has thrown the entire entertainment ecosystem into an abyss, affecting stakeholders across the spectrum. … We are going to do everything we can to mitigate the damage the Guild has imposed by implementing their strategy. We are prepared to continue fighting for a long-term solution that protects our clients and serves all ATA member agencies.”

But prominent writers weighed in.

“This is never what I wanted,” tweeted Stephen King, who fired Paradigm. “My rep has been honest and diligent for over 40 years. Not his fault, but we're a union family. Come on, ATA. Come on, WGA. Solve this so we can go back to doing what we do.”

Tony Kushner and Grey’s Anatomy showrunner Krista Vernoff are among others who have made similar moves.

The new code is unacceptable to the major agencies for a number of reasons, most notably because it bans packaging fees and affiliate production, two practices in which agents act in a producorial capacity and are compensated as such — an unacceptable conflict of interest with writer clients, the WGA argues.

ATA memo to members on agency standards for client representation by AbidRahmanPress on Scribd

For more on this subject, visit THR‘s labor page.