Well, the Association of Talent Agencies got a rude awakening. But one can’t say they were blindsided. The Writers Guild did give them ample warning.
In an amazing show of solidarity, the WGA announced yesterday it had delivered its first group of over 7,000 termination letters from its members to agencies.
What that breaks down to is 99% of all writers who voted “yes” for the guild to implement its agency code of conduct. In layman’s terms 8,800 voted yes, and 7,000 followed through.
In their memo to members, the guild had this to say, “99 percent of the members who signed the Statement of Support have fulfilled their pledge by terminating their non-franchised agencies… These are astounding, powerful numbers.”
Considering that all of the big agencies, represented by the Association of Talent Agents (ATA), had made it abundantly clear that they would never agree to the new Code, its implementation on April 13 effectively stripped the “Big 4” (CAA, ICM, UTA, WME) of the guild’s authorization necessary to represent its members.
Read the full memo below:
As of April 12, the WGA’s records showed 8,800 current members with an agent. Today the Guild delivered a first batch of over 7,000 termination letters from WGA members to the non-franchised agencies.
99% of the members who signed the Statement of Support have fulfilled their pledge by terminating their non-franchised agencies.
These are astounding, powerful numbers.
Thank you. We’ve done what was necessary. Most of the writers who haven’t yet signed termination letters are retirees or no longer actively working. Guild staff will reach out to that group while as writers we will move forward and focus on achieving our goal, which remains the same: to realign agencies’ interests with the interests of writers.
The primary source of pressure on agencies to sign the Code of Conduct is their lack of writer clients. Therefore, adherence to Working Rule 23 remains the main responsibility of all Guild members. Please review the FAQ to be sure you are in full compliance.
Also vitally important is support for members who are without agents and looking for work. Your response to the call for solidarity and mutual assistance is inspiring: showrunners reading scripts, writers boosting other writers through mixers, hashtags, Google spreadsheets, or just one-to-one member outreach. We have also expanded Guild resources, and you can find them here.
We look forward to the day when we are all represented by agencies who have agreed to align their interests with ours; in the meantime, writers will continue working, continue supporting each other, and continue to prove that we can and will make the necessary change happen.
WGA-Agency Agreement Negotiating Committee
Last week writers, such as Stephen King and Patton Oswalt, took to Twitter, to show signed proof that they had fired their agencies. The list also includes A-listers Shonda Rhimes, Mike Schur, Greg Berlanti, Jenji Kohan, Joss Whedon, David Simon, Kenya Barris, Amy Sherman-Palladino, Matthew Weiner, JJ. Abrams, Tina Fey, Barry Jenkins, Alfonso Cuaron, Peter Jackson, Marielle Heller, Edgar Wright, Peter Morgan, Amy Poehler, Noah Hawley, Neil Gaiman, Aaron Sorkin, and thousands of others.
According to The Wrap, The ATA sent a letter to its members last Thursday, asking member agencies to track any manager or lawyer that attempts to serve as a substitute for agents as Writers Guild of America members continue to terminate their representation.
What’s should be more concerning to the like of WME, UTA, ICM, and CAA, is how many showrunners and writers have taken to Twitter to help other lower-level and mid-level writers get staffed during this time of year which is known as “staffing Season.” Using the hashtags, #WGASolidarityChallenge and #WGAStaffingBoost, guild members are reading others’ scripts and tweeting out their approval if they like what they read.
There are also networking mixers (#WGAmixer1) happening in Los Angeles and New York giving writers a chance to meet one another and hopefully get a meeting or even better, staffed.
The Guild has also created staffing portals where writers can target shows that are openly staffing and submit themselves. Yesterday, the union also announced it would send a weekly memo to feature producers with writers’ loglines, allowing producers to see what specs are out there.