Creative Artists Agency cuts, furloughs nearly 20% of its staff amid pandemic
Creative Artists Agency, one of the largest Hollywood talent agencies, said it is laying off 90 agents and executives this week and furloughing 275 staffers.
The cost-cutting measures are among the most sweeping to date in the agency business and come as the industry has been hard hit by the pandemic, which has canceled or postponed Hollywood productions, live events and concerts.
With no vaccine immediately available, the entertainment industry is bracing for many more months of uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Citing “greater visibility into the COVID-19 challenges of fiscal year 2021,” CAA said in a statement that, “We have made the difficult decision to implement workforce reductions, in addition to our ongoing cost-saving measures ... This is a painful and unprecedented moment, and words are insufficient.”
Talent agencies are under growing pressure to raise capital to finance growth at time of rapid changes in the media industry. The rise of streaming and expected decline of TV packaging, combined with the effects of a longstanding boycott by Writers Guild of America, have put the squeeze on talent agencies, some of which have laid off workers.
The Century City-based talent agency, which employs roughly 2,000 people, previously implemented salary reductions in April. At the time, the company said President Richard Lovett and Chairmen Bryan Lourd and Kevin Huvane would take no salary for the rest of the year.
The company will pay healthcare premiums for furloughed workers. Employees affected by the layoffs will receive a collected sum of wages and benefits for the next 60 days, the company said.
Other major talent agencies, including United Talent Agency and William Morris Endeavor, have implemented cost-cutting measures.
In May, WME said 20% of its roughly 1,500 employees would either be laid off, furloughed or have their hours reduced to part-time.
The agency said that the deal would allow it to keep its ownership stake in its production company and that it had agreed to phase out packaging.
In addition to the pandemic, major agencies including CAA, WME and ICM Partners have remained in a dispute with the Writers Guild of America for more than a year over long-standing practices such as packaging fees. The fight has put pressure on their businesses, as unionized writers have been instructed to not work with agencies that have not signed deals with the guild. The agencies also have incurred legal costs in their battle with the union.
Earlier this month, United Talent Agency was the first of the big four talent agencies to sign a deal with WGA.
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