'Uncharted Waters': Union Tells Hollywood Writers To Fire Their Agents ...
At the center of the conflict is a complaint among writers that their agents are not just drastically out-earning them, but preventing them from receiving better pay. The dispute threatens to hinder production at a time when the major broadcast networks are typically staffing up for their fall lineups. It could also lead to job losses in the industry.
"This whole fight is really about the fact that in a period of unprecedented profits and growth of our business ... writers themselves are actually earning less," said Goodman.
A main point of contention involves what are known as packaging fees, the money that agents get from a studio when they provide a roster of talent for a film or TV project. Traditionally, agents would earn a 10 percent commission for the work their clients receive from a studio. But with packaging fees, they are compensated by the studios directly. "They are not incentivized to increase the income of those writers," Goodman said.
Writers are also protesting a shift in the business model in recent years at some of Hollywood's largest talent agencies. Agents have increasingly entered the film and TV businesses as producers, and writers contend that such a dual-hat arrangement represents a conflict of interest.
Goodman said that in order to break the impasse, the industry needs to return "to the traditional agent-writer relationship" where an agent takes 10 percent of a writer's income.
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