Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Ari Emanuel’s WME ends bitter two-year feud with Hollywood writers

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Hollywood talent agency WME has reached a deal with Hollywood’s writers’ union, allowing it to represent movie and TV scribes again for the first time since 2019.

The deal, reached late Friday, ends Hollywood’s epic two-year standoff between the agencies and their writer clients — from Shonda Rimes to Tina Fey to Seth MacFarlane and Lena Waithe — who were instructed by their union in 2019 to fire their agents over deep-seated conflicts over compensation.

And it will force WME’s parent, Endeavor, to whittle down its stake in Endeavor Content, an affiliated production company behind the critically acclaimed “La La Land,” as well as new release “Bill & Ted Face the Music.”  

In a statement announcing the deal, Endeavor’s Chief Executive Officer Ari Emanual said the agreement “addresses writers’ core concerns while recognizing the unique aspects of our business. 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.”

The deal requires Endeavor-owned WME, which represents A-listers like Larry David and Matt Damon, to put an end to “packaging,” a practice that allows production companies to pay talent agencies a flat fee to bundle their talent (writers, producers and actors) together for a film or TV series.

But WME will be allowed to phase out the practice by June 30, 2022.

The practice of “packaging” using in-house production companies has come under fire across Hollywood for putting agencies in the conflicting roles of boss and agent — therefore creating an incentive to pay their talent less.

All of Hollywood’s top agencies, from UTA to CAA, have caved to the union’s concerns, leaving WME alone in not having inked a deal. The Post earlier today reported that WME was finally close to striking a deal with the Writers Guild of America as soon as Friday.

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Do not turn off the alarm!

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