Writers Guild of America leaders urged their 15,000 members to fire their agents at midnight.
The unprecedented step came when the WGA Negotiating Committee announced late Friday afternoon that it had failed to reach an agreement with the GGA agents to revise the 46-year franchise agreement. "So there is no agreement," said the committee. "So, what happens now?" Said the committee. "In a strike situation, we all know that we do not have to go beyond the picket line or write for a company that has been taken, and we are called upon to express our solidarity through pickets that are the public and moral face of our dispute."
"In this situation, all members must take two actions: Do not allow a franchise agent to represent you for future WGA work. Secondly, tell your agency in writing that they can not represent you before they have signed the Code of Conduct.
The failure of the WGA and the Association of Talent Agents to reach a deal opens the door to a potentially chaotic landscape this weekend.
"We are in completely unknown territory," said an experienced manager. "These things are relatively easy, but not enough. I assume that this will take at least a few months. "
The two sides were scheduled to hold their fifth negotiating session in seven days to revise the rules for the representation of writers by agents. The last round of negotiations began at 3 pm. PDT – just nine hours before the expiration of the current franchise agreement.
WGA West President David Goodman said the two sides had not closed the gap.
"As I said, we have approved the extension of the week as a serious effort to find a solution," he said. "But we realize that we are not noticeably closer. We are happy to meet with you when making a proposal that really addresses our concerns, but our deadlines for Friday are here and we continue to implement our Code of Conduct and enforce our WGA Working Rule 23.
This rule prohibits members from representing agents who are not participating in a WGA franchise agreement that expires at midnight.
The WGA had previously said that they would oblige their members to dismiss their agents if they did not agree to a new "Agency Code of Conduct" which would invalidate the packaging fees and ownership of the company after the expiration of the current agreement Agency eliminated to production companies. The Code was approved by 95% of the voting guild members at the end of March. Almost all agencies have refused to sign it.
Not surprisingly, the agents blamed the WGA for the failure of a contract.
"The WGA leadership today said there is no compromise path," said Karen Stuart, ATA General Manager. "Agencies have committed to an agreement with the WGA, but despite our best efforts, today's result has been determined by the Guild's stated chaos rate."
"The WGA requires a" Code of Conduct "that will hurt everyone – especially painstakingly critical for middle-class and aspiring writers – while dictating how agencies of all sizes should work," she added have come to the negotiating table in good faith and have put forward comprehensive proposals that include choice, disclosure, transparency, joint revenue and significant investment in inclusion programs.Was, to our surprise, the WGA has unfortunately not accepted our offer, made any counterproposals and further negotiations We are ready to continue fighting for the benefit of the writers and all artists. "
There was no indication of when the negotiations could resume.
The WGA's uncompromising attitude proved more than the agents can accept The WGA has argued that agencies that accept studio fees for packaging companies and own production companies represent conflicts of interest of the agencies' fiduciary duties to their clients.
As with the WGA, the agencies did not move far enough. The ATA announced Thursday night that it wanted to share some of the back-end profits from the television and film packaging fees with the WGA, with 80% shared among the authors of a show who did not participate in the series, and the 20% were invested In initiatives to promote the involvement of under-represented writers.
The pages had a closing date on April 6, but an assembly of eleven hours on that day resulted in the WGA agreeing to implement the Code for six days, followed by four negotiating sessions on the 8th, 9, 11 and 12 April.
The WGA's opposition to the agencies became intense in early 2018 as concerns about CAA, WME and UTA were invested in manufacturing companies – essentially brokering the agencies on both sides of the table as producers during the writers' representation.
The guild's previous franchise agreement with the ATA, the Artists Manager Basic Agreement, has not been renegotiated since January 1, 976. The WGA leaders have repeatedly accused the agencies of unlawful conduct and have warned that they had prepared a lawsuit against the agents.
In a letter published on March 23, the WGA announced that nearly 800 of its most prominent showrunners and screenwriters were known to have signed a letter supporting the WGA leadership in the dispute. Signers included Shonda Rhimes, Greg Berlanti, Seth MacFarlane, Jenji Kohan, Eric Roth, Barry Jenkins and David Koepp.
A definitive signal that the chances of a deal would disappear was Friday morning, when the ATA warned the WGA of authorizing executives, and lawyers were supposed to negotiate for authors instead of agents and tell them that this was illegal and that ATA regards the license as "unfair and unlawful competition". It warned against unspecified "reasonable measures" if the WGA continues to empower managers and lawyers as agents.
The WGA responded by accusing ATA of trying to harass managers and lawyers.
"The Guild upholds its claim by lawfully delegating the authority it owns as the exclusive representative of the writer to federal law," it said. "The agencies are trying to intimidate lawyers and managers to prevent them from doing work they routinely do."