In the latest salvo of the nearly three-month battle between Hollywood’s top talent agencies and the Writers Guild of America, CAA (Creative Artists Agency) has brought an anti-trust suit against the union today in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, following similar moves by fellow “Big Four” juggernauts WME (William Morris Endeavor) and UTA (United Talent Agency).
In April, the WGA urged its members to fire their agents over “packaging fees” in which agents are paid directly by studios for attaching talent to a writer’s pitch, rather than earning a percentage of the income they negotiate for their clients. Roughly 7,000 members fired their agents on the spot. The guild also recently stated that any agency offer that didn’t completely kill the practice and abide by its proposed “Code of Conduct” is a dead end.
Now the agency is striking back. CAA says in its lawsuit that the WGA “is attempting to restrain competition on a staggering scale using illegal means, including agreements with non-labor parties in service of a group boycott and overly restrictive restraints in commercial markets that the union has no authority to regulate, all of which is prohibited by law.”
Citing what it calls the WGA’s “unlawful restraint of trade,” CAA lawyers insist that the agencies are really the ones standing up for the scribes’ rights.
“If the WGA’s members do not follow the WGA’s instructions to refuse to deal with agencies that reject the ‘Code of Conduct,’ the members face sanctions, up to and including expulsion from the union, effectively a death sentence for a writer’s (or writer-producer’s) career. As a result, most WGA members (even those opposed to the WGA’s actions) have fired their agents, including agents at CAA.”
When CAA says that not all writers are behind the guild’s hardline tactics, it does have a point.
Stay on top of the latest in L.A. food and culture. Follow us on Facebook.