Paradigm Signs 5-Year Agreement With Writers Guild

WGA Building Black and White - H - 2019

The decision comes three days after the agency laid off a significant portion of its staff amid the coronavirus-induced industry slowdown.

Paradigm has reached an agreement with the Writers Guild of America, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The pact, which runs through April 2025, is based on the standard franchise agreement offered by the WGA, with a few key gains for Paradigm: Packaging fees will be allowed until Dec. 31, 2021 (the longest extension an agency has attained yet) and it can own 10 percent (up from 5 percent) of an affiliated production entity. Paradigm so far has no production affiliate, but its packaged series include The Masked Singer, Black-ish, Grown-ish, The Chi, NCIS: Los Angeles, Evil, Why Women Kill and The Good Fight.

In addition, while the standard WGA agreement is good for four years, Paradigm has inked its deal for five and retained the right to terminate with 45 days' notice.

"The issues we had with the existing franchise agreement have been resolved in a way that allows us to shift our business model and to continue providing the high-level comprehensive representation service Paradigm is known for," Paradigm chairman and CEO Sam Gores said Monday in a statement. "I want to add that the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic on our industry have brought this new franchise agreement into much sharper relief for us. When we began our negotiations with the WGA leadership, we could not have imagined how the world would change, but we feel fortunate that we can now do our part as we face these new challenges."

Talks between the agency and WGA leadership began in mid-December. Just before the weekend, Paradigm had laid off about one-sixth or more of its workforce, with the remaining employees taking a temporary pay cut of up to 50 percent, as the novel coronavirus pandemic has slowed industry activity to a dead halt in some areas. The layoffs occurred at all levels and across departments, including, according to a source, just over a dozen literary agents.

With the WGA deal, the rest of the lit department will once again be able to represent writers — which currently are among the only professions still working as virtually all production activity has shut down. It has been now almost a year since the guild ordered its members to leave their agents, and while it has not been able to reach an agreement with the Association of Talent Agents, it is making individual deals with each agency, with only the Big Four — CAA, WME, UTA and ICM Partners — the lone holdouts.