In what must be counted as a victory for solidarity among WGA members and the often controversial tactics of its executive director David Goodman, the leading agency WME reached a deal for a franchise agreement with the union. This will permit the agency to resume representing writers almost two years after its writer clients fired the agency en masse. In exchange the agency will phase out package commissions on scripted projects and will reduce its stake in the production company Endeavor Content.
WME was the last to settle of the largest agencies. Its rivals UTA and CAA reached agreement last year, leading them also to drop out of the antitrust litigation to which all three had been parties. Fellow Big Four agency ICM, which was never a party to the litigation, made its own deal with the WGA last summer.
The sticking point for WME was not so much the elimination of package commissions. Those terms largely track those agreed to by UTA and CAA. The difficulty lay in getting WME’s ownership of Endeavor Content below the 20% share that the WGA would accept. Throughout its negotiations, the WGA had insisted on transparency regarding WME’s capital structure and that of its private equity investors. In reaching settlement, the WGA has satisfied itself that there will not be lingering conflicts of interests following divestiture.