Signs of Solidarity and Strain Emerge as Week 2 of WGA-Talent Agency Standoff Begins

Variety | 4/13/2019 | Cynthia Littleton
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Hundreds of WGA members rallied solidly behind their union last week as the industry grappled with uncertainties spurred by the sudden break between writers and their talent agency representatives.

But as the standoff heads into its second week, signs of strain among some WGA members are beginning to emerge. Shalom Auslander, author and creator of the Showtime dramedy “Happyish,” penned a scathing “Official Coerced Termination Letter” to his reps at CAA that blasted the WGA for what Auslander describes as thuggish tactics in forcing members to fire their agents.

Letter - Writer - Circles - Auslander - Situation

The letter, which is circulating in writer circles, likened Auslander’s situation to being held “hostage” by the WGA and threatened with disciplinary action if he did not send in the electronic form letter of termination provided by the guild. The WGA reportedly plans to deliver hard copies of the termination letters to the Big Four talent agencies — WME, CAA, UTA and ICM Partners — on Monday.

“This PR stunt of forced mass firings is merely that, a stunt, and one that hurts writers,” Auslander wrote in a letter that included a clip-art image of CBS News’ Walter Cronkite at the anchor desk in front of a chyron slate reading “Hostages.”

Auslander - Divide - TV - Writers - Guild

Auslander pointed parenthetically to the economic divide among TV writers in the guild among those have the stature to command overall deals with studios that guarantee a level of income, and those who grapple with less predictable paychecks by working on a project-by-project basis. Those who are looking for writing gigs on a regular basis are expected to feel the pinch of losing agency representation more than top-tier showrunners and screenwriters.

“(Not the 800 fabulously well-to-do showrunners who signed [the WGA’s] Letter of Support, of course. They’ll be fine, assuming Tesla doesn’t go under. Better than fine. Fantastic. Having used agents their entire careers to...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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