Paradigm signs 5-year franchise deal with WGA

Paradigm Talent Agency is the latest literary agency to sign a new franchise agreement with the Writers Guild of America, allowing the fifth largest talent agency to resume representation of its WGA-represented clients for the first time in nearly a year. The agency also noted that the deal makes it the first major talent agency engaged in television packaging to sign a new franchise agreement with the WGA.

The announcement was made by Paradigm chairman-CEO Sam Gores and follows The Gersh Agency and APA agreements.

The agreement was announced Monday by Paradigm, three days after Variety reported that temporary layoffs, up to 100 personnel, are expected to hit Paradigm. It is also expected to see payroll reduced for those who remain at the company.

According to outlet, the new agreement expands on the terms of the WGA’s current franchise agreement, most notably extending the “sunset” period for television packaging by six months to Dec. 31, 2021, and doubling the allowable ownership interest in affiliate production from 5% to 10%.

The agreement will run through April, 2025, an extension of one year to the current WGA franchise agreement. Paradigm said the deal also preserves the agency’s right to terminate at any time following 45 days’ notice. The WGA and the agency began talks in mid-December 2019.

“Paradigm’s foremost mission is to serve the needs of artists and the art they create, and so we are excited to announce our new franchise agreement with the Writers Guild, which most importantly allows our agents to get back to representing our WGA member clients,” said Gores. “The issues we had with the existing franchise agreement have been resolved in a way that allows us to shift our business model and to continue providing the high-level comprehensive representation service Paradigm is known for.”

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Gores added, “I want to add that the devasting effects of the Coronavirus pandemic on our industry have brought this new franchise agreement into much sharper relief for us,” he added. “When we began our negotiations with the WGA leadership, we could not have imagined how the world would change, but we feel fortunate that we can now do our part as we face these new challenges.”

The agency currently has more than 30 packaged series on the air and in production, including The Masked Singer, black-ish, grown-ish, The Chi, NCIS: Los Angeles, Evil, Why Women Kill and The Good Fight.

Paradigm is joining more than 80 agencies allowed to represent WGA members thanks to agreeing to a limit on agency packaging fees and affiliate production. WGA members were told on April 13 by WGA West president David Goodman to fire their agents if the agents had not agreed to bans on packaging fees and affiliate production.

Several mid-sized agencies — Abrams Artists, Rothman Brecher Ehrich Livingston, Verve, Kaplan Stahler and Buchwald — have signed deals with the WGA in the months following the April 13 firings.

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CAA, UTA and WME sued the WGA and consolidated their antitrust suits against the guild into a single action, accusing the union of engaging in an illegal group boycott.

The WGA East sent out a message about the Paradigm deal to members on Monday afternoon. Here’s the entire message:

Dear Members:

We hope you and your loved ones are well.  This is a time of great turmoil.  However, the work of the Guild is continuing to the extent possible, and we have news to share about the agency campaign. 

Following weeks of discussion, the WGA and Paradigm Talent Agency have agreed to a new franchise agreement.  Paradigm was the fifth largest agency representing writers, and as of today may once again represent WGA members for covered writing services.

The Paradigm agreement extends the packaging sunset date to December 31, 2021 and allows the agency to have up to a 10% non-controlling ownership interest in a production company.  The agreement expires on April 12, 2025.

Our goal remains to move the negotiation process forward with the remaining unsigned agencies.  We will let you know when there are further developments.  

Please stay safe.

In Solidarity,

WGA Agency Negotiating Committee

Variety and the WGA East contributed to this article.