Writers Guild Extends Agent Showdown Deadline to Friday Night

WGA vs ATA - H - 2019

The move came after a small group meeting on Saturday afternoon.

At the last minute, the Writers Guild of America has extended the deadline for imposing a “Code of Conduct” on the talent agencies by about a week, to end of day Friday, April 12, the guild announced in an email to members Saturday. The code was set to go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Sunday.

The move came after a Saturday afternoon meeting with a small group of talent agents, at which the agencies said that they would present proposals to the guild for a negotiated settlement and requested an extension. But the guild warned that the requested extension, 12:01 a.m. April 13, would be a “true deadline.”

“We had a frank and open conversation and, for the first time, the agencies acknowledged the depth of the problem that their behavior has caused,” said the WGA email. “In that meeting, they asked us to delay implementation of the Code until end of day Friday, April 12th, so that they could present us with proposals to address those problems and reach a settlement.”

The email continued: “In a sincere effort to find agreement, we have accepted that request. … But Friday at midnight, which the agencies themselves proposed, is a true deadline. Unless we have an agreed-upon deal, the WGAW Board and WGAE Council have voted that the Code of Conduct will go into effect at 12:01 am on Saturday, April 13th. From that point on, diplomacy can continue alongside powerful collective action.”

The Association of Talents Agents on Saturday evening sent a message to its members: “Friday afternoon, ATA initiated an informal meeting with the WGA to discuss a pathway and process for moving forward in our negotiations. Today, a small group of representatives from ATA and WGA met for several hours on a wide range of issues important to both writers and agents. Tonight, we mutually agreed to extend the termination of our existing agreement through Friday, April 12, and committed to meeting regularly this week in our continued effort to work towards a resolution that serves the best interests of your businesses and your clients.”

The shape of a proposed deal continues to be unknown. The guild adamantly opposes packaging fees and affiliate production — “conflicted practices and misaligned financial incentives have plagued our relationships with our representatives for too long,” said the email — but the major agencies have been equally firm that they will not abandon these lucrative practices.

For more on this subject, visit The Hollywood Reporter‘s labor page.