The Writers Guild of America Friday settled its suit in Los Angeles with William Morris Endeavor, marking the phasing out of packaging fees.
Packaging fees are paid by a studio to talent agencies like WME which represent writers, actors or directors on a particular series or production. The guild argued in federal court that the fees hurt writers, often leading to agents pocketing more on package deals than writers.
“WME and the WGA have agreed to a new franchise deal that addresses writers’ core concerns while recognizing the unique aspects of our business,” Ariel Emanuel, CEO of Endeavor, said in a statement. “Writers have been a part of this agency since our inception, and they will continue to be a part of the lifeblood of WME. We look forward to once again serving as their advocates during this unprecedented time in our industry.”
Hollywood’s largest talent agencies — WME, CAA and UTA — filed suit alleging antitrust violations against the guild two years ago. The agencies alleged that the union had begun an illegal boycott by ordering writers to fire their agents.
WGA then countersued, alleging that packaging fees were a form of bribery, involving racketeering activity.
WME was the last of the three agencies not to have signed the guilds’ franchise agreement to phase out packaging fees and reduce ownership interests in production companies.
The dispute arose in April 2019 when the WGA ordered its members to fire their agents who refused to sign the guild’s Code of Conduct, which banned packaging fees and agency affiliations with related production companies. Since then, every major agency except WME signed a modified code that phases out packaging fees and reduces ownership interests of production companies to just 20%.