Stephen King Fires Agent Over Union Dispute
CAA files anti-trust lawsuit against the Writers Guild
For the last few months, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Association of Talent Agents (ATA) have been locked in a bitter dispute. The fight has gotten so bad that the Writers Guild asked their members to publicly fire their talent agents on Twitter. Prominent members like Stephen King, Tony Kushner, and Grey’s Anatomy showrunner Krista Vernoff made headlines with tweets supporting the union and letting their agents go.
“This is never what I wanted,” tweeted Stephen King, who fired Paradigm. “My rep has been honest and diligent for over 40 years. Not his fault, but we're a union family. Come on, ATA. Come on, WGA. Solve this so we can go back to doing what we do.”
At the time, the ATA vowed that chaos would ensue if writers continued to fire their agents. While chaos doesn’t appear to have ensued in the workplace, prominent talent agencies have decided to stir their own chaos. On Monday Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the biggest talent agencies in the country announced that they will be filing an anti-trust lawsuit against the WGA. This comes days after two other agencies, WME and UTA, filed similar lawsuits. The lawsuit alleges that the guild is engaged in an illegal boycott of agencies that refuse to sign onto the union’s Code of Conduct.
The union’s Code of Conduct is what is at the heart of the dispute. Back in April, the WGA informed all talent agencies that if they wanted to keep working with WGA members they would need to abide by a new set of rules. The main sticking point was around a practice called packing fees and affiliate production. Both of these practices occur when a producer is allowed to work on a production as a producer, thus giving them the financial benefits of a producer. The WGA thinks that this presents a conflict of interest since this would make their agents bosses on the production.
Talent agencies may have a tough time proving their case in court. The last time the WGA had an anti-trust case filed against them was in 1975 by WME’s predecessor the William Morris Agency. In that case, the judge found in favor of the union, something that the WGA reminded CAA in their response to the case. “There is no merit to WME’s lawsuit, and the Guild will not be bullied into a bad deal,” said the WGA.