CAA Signs New Deal With Writers Guild

WME remains last major agency holdout in dispute over packaging fees

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CAA on Monday signed a deal with the Writers Guild of America that would see the agency end packaging fees, according to an individual familiar with the deal.

The agency has been in a stalemate the guild for more than a year over the practice, which led to CAA not representing Hollywood writers.

“Today, we signed the same deal the WGA made with ICM several weeks ago. We delivered the signed agreement to the WGA, and we assume that it will be circulated to the appropriate members of the negotiating committee, as well as the membership, shortly,” the agency said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “There is one change we have provided that we think the WGA will be able to agree to. With regard to our investment in the affiliated production company, wiip, we are providing for a commercially practical time to come into compliance with the 20% ownership limitation contained in the agreement. We are unequivocally committed to achieving compliance.”

CAA became the third major Hollywood agency to agree to a new deal, following behind ICM and UTA. WME, at this point, remains the only hold out among the major agencies.

UTA, ICM, CAA and WME account for more than 90% of the packaging fee deals — those in which agencies bundle writers, talent and creators for a project and sell to a studio — in Hollywood. The WGA has already signed deals with more than 80 talent agencies for whom packaging fees are less of an issue.

Last year the WGA implemented a new Code of Conduct for agents designed to end practices it has described as conflicts of interest: packaging, where agencies bundle talent and projects together and bring them to a studio as a package, for which the agency collects a fee on top of the commission for their clients’ work; and affiliate production, in which a studio partly owned by the agency is involved in a packaged project. Thousands of writers terminated their representation shortly after the code went into effect.

The WGA, last year, sued CAA, UTA and WME over packaging fees, which the suit called illegal. In April, a judge dismissed most of the union’s claims of unlawful racketeering. An antitrust lawsuit by the agencies against the WGA continues, with a trial that could begin next March. That lawsuit, however, will have to proceed without UTA, as the agency must withdraw from the lawsuit as a condition of the agreement.

More to come…

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