Writers Guild Agrees to June 7 Date to Resume Talks With Agents

The Writers Guild of America has agreed to resume stalled talks with Hollywood agents on June 7 at an unspecified location, Variety has learned.

The WGA negotiating committee told members on May 29 that the agencies had proposed that date, but didn’t say then that the guild had agreed to the meeting, which has left Hollywood uncertain over whether the talks would actually take place.

Sources said Friday that the June 7 meeting has been locked in, although the WGA has not agreed to smaller working group meetings earlier in the week. The WGA has not responded to repeated requests for comment.

If the talks go ahead, it will be the first formal negotiations in nearly two months. The guild directed its nearly 15,000 members on April 12, when negotiations collapsed, to terminate relations with agents who refused to sign its new Code of Conduct, which bars agencies from accepting packaging fees and engaging in ownership of affiliate production companies.

WGA West president David A. Goodman announced on May 22 that the WGA had approved a proposal by UTA co-president Jay Sures to return to the bargaining table.

“Thank you for your offer to meet, which I accept on behalf of the WGA,” Goodman said on May 22. “I do want to make clear that we responded on April 12 to your most recent proposal. We continue to believe that there is a deal to be made that aligns agency interests with those of writers. We look forward to hearing what you have to say.”

The standoff includes a lawsuit filed on April 17 by the WGA and eight members against CAA, WME, UTA and ICM Partners alleging that the practice of agencies collecting packaging fees violates state and federal law. The WGA bulked up its lawsuit on May 20 with additional fraud allegations. The Association of Talent Agents, which serves as the negotiating arm for the agencies, brushed off the amended complaint, saying the WGA never had any intention of reaching a negotiated solution with the ATA.

In the latest development, WGA West executive director David Young blasted media coverage about negotiating committee co-chair Christopher Keyser shopping a new series co-produced by Endeavor Content — an affiliate of WME. Variety noted Keyser’s business ties to Endeavor Content have been criticized by WGA members concerned about the handling of the agency negotiations.

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