CAA Reaches Deal With WGA, Will Resume Repping Writers

CAA has reached an agreement with the Writers Guild of America that will allow the agency to resume representing writers after a 20-month standoff with the union.

“CAA and the WGA have concluded and signed a franchise agreement confirming CAA can resume representing writers and continue the important work of helping them realize their ambitions,” the agency said in a statement issued Wednesday. “We end this year of unprecedented global challenges with the optimism and energy that today’s news brings, starting now, and for the years ahead.”

CAA’s detente with the union leaves WME as the last talent agency at odds with the WGA over the franchise rules implemented in April 2019. The guild has barred agencies from receiving packaging fees on TV series and from having ownership interests of more than 20% in production and distribution assets. The move sparked an exchange of lawsuits among CAA, WME, UTA and the WGA last year. UTA dropped its litigation and signed with WGA in July.

WME indicated that it too may have a deal within sight.

“We have reached out to the Guild to learn more about the specific terms of their agreement with CAA, but we think today’s news is a positive development and suggests a path forward for WME to reach an agreement as well,” WME said in a statement.

CAA and WME had been preparing to push their case on Friday at a hearing in Los Angeles federal court on the agencies’ request for an injunction against what they termed an “illegal boycott” mounted by the guild.

CAA has had a rocky relationship with the guild after announcing in September that the agency would agree to the guild’s terms. The sides continued to battle over the terms of divestiture and ownership rules applied to CAA’s investors. CAA has minority interests in a handful of companies that run afoul of the guild’s new rules. It’s still unclear what broke the logjam.

Hollywood agencies have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with furloughs, layoffs, and reduced salaries being seen across the board. With production and live events mostly shut down and writers being virtually the only segment of the entertainment industry still able to work during quarantine, the agencies found themselves without access to the one group of clients who could potentially bring in cash when they needed it most.

The agencies have likewise seen a number of high-profile departures, as numerous agents have either shifted over to existing management companies or started their own in search of greener pastures. Peter Micelli, a former CAA agent who recently stepped down as chief strategy officer of Entertainment One, has launched Range Media Partners along with several defectors from a number of top agencies. Elsewhere, WME partner Phillip Sun partnered with Charles D. King of Macro to found a new venture called M88. It has already attracted a number of big-name clients like Michael B. Jordan, Idris Elba and Donald Glover.

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