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WGA, ATA talks to resume

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the US Association of Talent Agencies (ATA) have agreed to reopen talks over their current dispute following a request by the co-president of United Talent Agency (UTA).

Jay Sures

UTA’s Jay Sures proposed a restart of talks next week, with the offer accepted by WGA West president David A Goodman. In his email to Sures, Goodman said his organisation “believes there is a deal to be made that aligns agency interests with those of writers” and would “look forward to hearing what you have to say.”

The thawing in relations comes more than a month since talks first broke down between the ATA and the WGA over the latter’s introduction of a new code of conduct, which sought to do away with agency packaging deals and agency-affiliated production companies.

The dispute has become increasingly acrimonious, with the ATA and one of its main members earlier this week describing an amendment to the WGA’s lawsuit against the agency organisation as “desperate” and a “publicity stunt.”

However, Sures attempted to break the impasse yesterday, telling Goodman – a former UTA client – that he understood writers were also keen for an end to the dispute.

“What I have heard from many of your members is that they want us back at the negotiating table. They want a deal and they want one now,” Sures wrote.

“Many feel this fight has gone on too long, with those that didn’t have existing jobs or overall deals feeling like they are at a disadvantage to those that did.”

A small number of agencies have agreed to the WGA’s revised code, including US-based Verve Talent and Literary Agency. However, more than 7,000 of the WGA’s members, including high-profile writers such as Shonda Rhimes, David Simon and Damon Lindelof, fired their agents last month after members of the ATA, including CAA, WME, UTA and ICM Partners, refused to sign up.

“If this dispute is truly about addressing packaging and affiliate production, then we are ready to get back to the table with you,” Sures wrote. “We are open to concepts of true revenue sharing and have already committed to requirements of explicit client consent and overall transparency and accountability.”

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