The first meeting since the beginning of a now eight-week standoff between the Association of Talent Agents and the WGA on Friday lasted about 45 minutes in face-to-face time, ending with new proposals on the table from the agencies side that the writers guild said it would respond to next week.
The meeting, which was held at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, started at 10:30 AM PT with ATA executive director Karen Stuart speaking briefly, followed by a statement read by Bryan Lourd, managing director and co-chair of CAA, which accompanies the associations proposal.
Heres Lourds full statement:
Thank you all for being here. This is a very important moment for writers, the WGA, agents, the ATA, and our entire creative community.
Its been eight weeks and one day since the Guild instructed its members, our former clients, to fire their agents. Many of us, both agents and writers, believe that there was a very different way for us to talk to each other about a new deal. We had a year to do so. It might not have been necessary to disrupt so many peoples lives and their ability to further their careers as well as pay their bills. The agency community has looked very closely, and with great seriousness and effort, at the role and responsibilities of agents in the lives of writers – all writers. A working group of over 40 of us has met for hundreds of hours collectively to brainstorm and hash out the thinking and intent of what you will hear and receive today.
The ATA has never been more unified and determined to get this right with the membership of your Guild. Today, we hope to turn the page.
We are doing what no good negotiator or agent would ever advise a client to do – we are negotiating against ourselves. We are doing so knowingly and willingly in order to answer our clients/your members request that we move our groups into alignment. We want to get back to work for writers. We can only do this if the ATA and WGA leadership, willingly and enthusiastically, embrace a process, and an intense, concentrated dialogue with the shared goal to make a new deal that is fair to both sides. A deal that takes the realities of our business into consideration.
Today, with the hope of coming to a new agreement with you, the Guilds elected and appointed leaders, and the membership at large, we are respectfully asking for your input, active effort, and sincere participation in a process to move the parties forward. Our writer clients have been calling us – imploring us to find a way to get the parties back together. We know theyve been calling and meeting with all of you too. Theyre understandably nervous and frustrated. They want to know what the plan is. What the end goal is. They want us to work together.
We are here asking you to work with us, for as many hours as it takes to create a new and comprehensive deal that best serves your members now and prepares for the rapidly changing future – a future I know we both agree is filled with threats to the creative communitys ownership prospects, creative rights, residuals, and, ultimately, their ability to make a living pursuing their craft…writing.
We all recognize that the future of this industry, the way it makes money, and the way artists are compensated will look different than it has in the past. We have discussed key aspects of our offer with writer clients as well as many leaders of our entertainment community, recognizing that it takes many artists to make a project successful. The same thing is true to craft the right deal. The feedback that weve received from them is reflected in this proposal.
But it is incomplete. It lacks your input.
Today, we are submitting proposals to you in the following areas:
1) The term of our contract
2) Arbitration and the process for remedy in all situations
3) The sharing of information and data
4) Affiliated independent companies
5) Film finance
6) The obligations and process around choice and packaging
7) Obviously, there are other discussions to be had around other issues, but we all think this list of six is a good place to start.
Again, we acknowledge that there are many issues in these proposals that need input from you and your negotiating committee – this is a starting point. Its an opportunity to press reset on our discussions. Please review them with that in mind.
Shortly, I will ask members of our working group in the ATA to read these proposals aloud, and then, with your permission, David & David, we will give them to you in writing. Before we proceed though, I think its important to stress how much we want to make a deal with you. Your actions as a Guild, as disruptive as they have been, need to result in a deal. If not, then the courts and dozens of lawyers will have to decide how we coexist. No one wants to go down that road, but we will if we are all forced to.
The ideas built into the proposals you will hear and see today are our attempt to begin a process with you. We need your expertise and guidance in the form of a counter. We do believe there are real and tangible solutions to explore but we cant do that in a vacuum.
A few things…
We disagree with your statement that we are not aligned. We do agree with you, though, that ever-greater alignment is vital, and in our opinion, our proposals address these needs.
We are making a historic offer that will provide revenue sharing on the backend profits agencies derive from packaged shows. We are more than doubling our previous offer. This financial proposal is specifically designed to benefit the large group of writers who contribute to packaged shows but do not have back-end/ownership positions. Our proposal benefits the working writer. We have ideas about how this money can be fairly distributed but we need your input and guidance to get it right, both for the writers and for the Guild.
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