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In a deadlock, WGA and large talent agencies turn to a mediator

Writers Guild of America West
The headquarters of the Writers Guild of America West in Los Angeles.
(WGA)

After months of wrangling, the Writers Guild of America and top talent agencies have been unable to bridge their differences over packaging fees and other practices. Now, the court is requiring them to take their legal dispute to a mediator.

Attorneys for the agencies and the guild have agreed to have Gail Migdal Title serve as their mediator at a future date, according to a document filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

William Morris Endeavor, Creative Artists Agency and United Talent Agency have sued the WGA, accusing it of organizing a boycott that violates antitrust laws. In April, the WGA instructed its members to fire their agents who did not follow the union’s code of conduct.

Since then, the WGA and the Assn. of Talent Agents have been at a negotiating standstill. The WGA has negotiated with individual agencies, securing agreements with more than 80 small and mid-tier agencies. Meanwhile, some writers have secretly gone back to work for their agents at large firms that lack agreements with the WGA.

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The union had sought to dismiss the agencies’ lawsuit but was denied. It has countersued the agencies, arguing that they violated antitrust laws.

Federal courts require litigants to consider selecting mediators to resolve disputes. Once a mediator is selected, a judge will issue an order and later a scheduled date for mediation will be set.

Title has worked for ADR Services, which handles dispute resolutions, since 2013, according to her LinkedIn page. She was previously a managing partner at the law firm Katten Muchin Rosenman.

It’s unclear whether Title will be able to break the logjam, however.

“No party is suggesting that mediation would be helpful at this point,” WGA West spokesman Neal Sacharow said.


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