Hollywood Writers File Lawsuit against Major Talent Agencies

Category: Lifestyle/Entertainment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. long-standing / ˈlɔŋˈstæn dɪŋ / (adj) – in effect or happening for a long time

    The theater has a long-standing tradition of presenting children’s plays during Christmas.

  2. bundle / ˈbʌn dl / (v) – to put different products or services together and offer them as one

    Some supermarkets bundle together food items that will expire soon to sell them fast.

  3. in (someone’s) best interest / ɪn bɛst ˈɪn tər ɪst / (idiom) – beneficial to someone

    It is in the actor’s best interest to take a break from the entertainment industry after the controversy he faced.

  4. commotion / kəˈmoʊ ʃən / (n) – disturbance or chaos

    The award given to the controversial movie caused a commotion in the entertainment industry.

  5. dispute / dɪˈspyut / (n) – a disagreement

    The movie’s co-producers had a dispute about how to split their earnings.


Read the text below.

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) sued four major Hollywood talent agencies over alleged unfair practices.

The WGA, a labor union that represents screenwriters across the United States, recently filed a case for the long-standing practice of using packaging fees. These fees are payments given to agencies for bundling writers, directors, and actors for shows. According to the WGA, agencies often get a huge payout because of packaging fees, oftentimes more than what writers receive.

The union tried to enforce a new agreement banning the use of packaging fees. However, majority of agents refused to sign this new agreement, saying that it puts agency business operations at risk. This disagreement ultimately led to the lawsuit.

The Association of Talent Agencies (ATA) spoke on behalf of the talent agencies, saying that packaging fees are actually good for screenwriters. Under this practice, writers do not have to pay a standard 10% commission to their agents. The ATA also added that it would not be in the WGA’s best interest to file a lawsuit because it could only lead to an industry-wide commotion.

Around 8,500 of the WGA members worked with agencies. Many of these writers, however, have already severed ties with their agencies because of the dispute. Despite this, the writers are still able to carry on with making scripts for production companies through the WGA’s help.

The guild has created a system that allows its members to directly submit works to production companies without the help of agencies. Under this new system, independent writers can work on up to three projects at once.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think agents deserve to get a higher pay for TV shows or projects than the writers that they work with? Why or why not?
• Aside from the possibility of receiving unfair pay for their works, what do you think are the other struggles of screenwriters? Discuss.

Discussion B

• What do you think are the pros and cons of working with a talent agency instead of trying to sell one’s works/services independently? Discuss.
• What do you think is the fair way to divide payment between an agency and a talent, like a writer or an artist? Discuss.