The Writers Guild of America has flatly rejected the latest proposal from WME to end the nearly two-year standoff that has kept the agency from formally representing some of its most lucrative clients.
In a message sent Tuesday evening, the WGA told members that WME had not yet agreed to the same restrictions on ownership of production and distribution entities as were included in the franchise agreement for the agency’s largest rivals, CAA, UTA and ICM Partners. The proposal WME sent on Dec. 23 did not go far enough to separate the agency’s parent company, Endeavor, and its investors from ownership stakes in production or distribution assets, per the guild.
WME did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“What WME proposed substantially alters both the CAA side letter and the franchise agreement, repeatedly undercutting the basic protections these agreements provide to writers,” the WGA’s agency franchise negotiating committee wrote.
WME is faced with a difficult divestiture process from Endeavor Content, the sizable production and distribution operation that has been a high-priority investment for WME parent Endeavor since it was put together in 2017. WME has maintained that the size and scope of Endeavor Content makes its separation process much more complicated. On Tuesday, the WGA once again told WME that its deal terms were in writing, take it or leave it.
“WME waited until every other agency in town found a way to partner with the Guild and return to the representation of writers,” the negotiating committee wrote. “Having sat mostly on the sidelines for the past 20 months, there will be no ‘going last’ bonus for WME – no accommodation for the fact that they are the most conflicted of all agencies – no alterations to our existing deals that soften the protections that writers have fought for nearly two years to achieve.”
WME and the WGA are still fighting in court over the guild’s overhaul of the rules that govern talent agency representation of union members. WME is the last remaining litigant in a federal lawsuit filed in 2019 accusing the WGA of orchestrating an illegal boycott of the agencies. The sides were scolded earlier this month by U.S. District Judge André Birotte Jr. to come to terms on the matter. They are awaiting a ruling in WME’s request for an injunction to force the WGA to allow writers to be represented by the agency. CAA had been a party to that suit before reaching its own settlement with the guild on Dec. 16.