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Temporary thaw cited in writers’ guild, talent agencies’ dispute

It is termed in a recent national media piece as “the first sign of a thaw between warring parties.”

The spat, which became a full-fledged entertainment industry debacle a month-plus ago, is not about anything typically linked with the central subject matter or spoils of war.

Rather, it spotlights a narrow and industry-specific dispute centered on packaging fees and so-called “affiliate production.”

The combatants are the Writers Guild of America and major Hollywood talent agencies that represent writers.

The conflict spilled forth in dramatic fashion earlier this year pursuant to the WGA’s disapproval with the agencies’ practice of pocketing and not sharing fees collected for surrounding represented writers with additional talent. The WGA views that as unfair to its vast pool of writers and a stark conflict of interest. The guild also opposes the practice of companies owning agencies creating their own content.

Negotiations between the two sides proved unavailing, with notable results occurring last month following the parties’ failure to secure a new franchise agreement. Thousands of guild writers fired their agents, and the WGA subsequently sued the four biggest talent agencies.

The Association of Talent Agents now seems intent on playing nice with the guild, at least concerning a return to the negotiating table. The organization proposed a restart to talks last week. The WGA accepted its offer.

Whether that will ultimately yield tangible results seems highly unclear presently. The agencies stress their desire to pursue talks focused on “concepts of true revenue sharing” concerning packaging fees and affiliate production. Words like that have stiffened the WGA’s opposition in the past, with the guild being staunchly opposed to the very existence of those practices.

We will keep readers duly informed of any material developments that emerge in the continuing agency/guild conflict.

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