The Writers Guild of America’s strategy to splinter Hollywood’s agency community over its proposed code of conduct hasn’t exactly gone according to plan.
After all, none of the biggest agencies have agreed to the union’s demands that they halt such practices as charging fees for packaging talent and engaging in so-called affiliated production.
But the 12,000-member union could claim some modest progress this week, as the midsize Buchwald talent agency on Thursday negotiated an agreement with the WGA.
Buchwald, founded in 1977 with offices in New York and L.A., became the third agency to split from the Assn. of Talent Agents, the trade group that represents agencies including WME, UTA, CAA and ICM.
“Today the WGA and Buchwald signed a negotiated franchise agreement that allows the agency to represent members for covered writing services,” the WGA West said in a statement posted on its website. “Our goal remains to move the negotiation process forward with the remaining unsigned agencies.”
The ATA declined to comment.
With a looming election in September that has brought out a number of challengers, guild leaders are under mounting pressure to demonstrate that they are making progress to resolve a conflict that has dragged on for more than three months.
So far, more than 70 talent agencies have accepted the guild’s terms to end agency-affiliated production companies and packaging. On Monday, Beverly Hills talent agency Kaplan Stahler accepted terms laid out by the guild.
WGA President David Goodman said he’s focused on continuing discussions with individual talent agencies.
“We’re going to continue to do this work to get individual agencies to come to the table and engage in the negotiation with us,” Goodman said in an interview on Thursday. “We’ve shown repeatedly that we are willing to negotiate.”
Goodman said that he believes the majority of members still support the guild’s current strategy, but he acknowledges there has been an increase in dissent.
“I think it’s going to be a tough race for me,” Goodman said. “I don’t think in any way it will be easy. I hope that the members support me and what I and the rest of the leadership have been trying to do, but you know, it’s their decision.”
Buchwald’s agreement includes some modifications including lessening the disclosure requirements that the agency and writers need to abide by.
“Ultimately, the goal is to get our writers back to work,” said John Bloom, who works on the agency’s business affairs on the West Coast. “We don’t know the timeline of that negotiation and we just thought it was right for our agency to negotiate a separate agreement.”