Writers Guild, Writers Guild Of America, Writer discussed on Morning Edition


You're listening to KCRW. This is morning edition. The clock is ticking on a real life showdown in Hollywood between TV writers and their own agents. Members of the writers guild of America are concerned among other things about packaging fees. That's money earned by talent agencies. When they bring together writers actors and directors in a deal to make his show. The WGN says the kind those kinds of big buck payments make talent agents more concerned about pleasing studios networks rather than working the best interests of their writing clients the guild is saying its members will fire their agents this weekend. If the talent agencies don't agree to a new code of conduct. There are reports of backroom efforts to try to work out a deal, but Jonathan handle a contributing editor for the Hollywood reporter says relations between the two sides have gotten kinda rocky. It's really become a scorcher fight between the writers guild on the one hand and the talent agencies. Especially the largest agencies on the other the fight centers on two issues packaging fees and affiliate production. And both of those have in common really is in essence that to some extent agents at like producers, they put shows together and they get compensated in some cases by the studios themselves or in the case of affiliate production. They actually had -ffiliated companies that act as many studios, the writers guild says that those two practices are conflict of interest and take the agent's incentive away from acting in the best interest of the client, the agencies, disagree and also argue that they need to bulk up and become bigger. Heavier companies in order to stand up to the mega media conglomerates of the Disney. Fox's the AT and T Time Warner's the net flex of the world. Now, we talked to David Goodman, the president of the WG last week. We were looking to get sort of the town. Talent agency side of the story. But so far have not found anyone to go on tape talent agency say that package deals are good for riders and good for the industry. Why do they argue that how do they back that up? Well, toned agencies, and I'm not taking sides here. But to explain what the talent agency position is they argued that if they get paid by studios in the form of packaging fees. They don't commission the clients. And so that's an immediate ten percent savings for the writers. And also the actors and directors on package television show, you know, or commission rather that is not taken from the clients in that instance, the writers guild also says that except for writers at the very top the business people who are really well known that many writers aren't seeing their pay go up as fast as it used to or aren't seeing any pay increases at all. Well, the talent agencies argue that the haystack nation that the middle and lower levels of television writing business is due to the studios, and especially the digital streamers instead of twenty two episode season as was traditional broadcast, you're looking at eight and ten episodes and so- writers are getting hired onto series, but they get paid they'll get paid less. The writers guild is not with field the data behind their statistics. And so it's difficult to to know in any detail, you know, of where the pressure points are and where they where the truth is on this the agents say, look, we're your allies we represent the writers also just as the guild does. And you the guild are going to be in to go. She next year with the studios. Why are you fighting with scorched-earth kind of approach when in fact, we should be allied on? On the same side. How about the timing of this dispute? This is coming at a point when many shows are staffing up for the new season. Right. That's right. So broadcast shows on ABC CBS NBC and FOX are starting their their staffing where they hire the mid and low level writers. This is very difficult time for writers to told as they probably will be fired their agents. What happens if the two sides can reach some kind of agreement in the next couple of weeks. I mean does that have the potential to bring at least network production grinding to a halt not grinding to a halt. But it'll be more difficult to staff writers rooms, you'll be more difficult to make deals it's not like a strike where production, you know. We saw the ten twelve years ago where we're production comes to a halt. It is a situation where the riders gold has has set up an online. Submission system for writers to submit themselves to shows that they might want to work for and the writers guild believes that a patchwork of this online system and writer to writer networking and managers attorneys and so forth, and at least to some extent make up for for agents. The agents are very skeptical of that, you know, agents are people who know who the buyers are and the personalities of the show hunters and the needs of show and and try to match writers to the requirement to the buyers. It's a person to person kind of business not something that's presumably easily automated Jonathan handle is an entertainment attorney at Troy Gould, and you are listening to morning edition on KCRW. Tennessee has a new tuition free community college program for people over the age of twenty five some students are facing challenges going back to school. They have not been in the learning atmosphere for. 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