The long legal battle between Hollywood writers and its agents has become uglier.
The executive director of the guild that represents Hollywood screenwriters has been accused of threatening to “kill” Rick Rosen, a top executive at Ari Emanuel WME’s talent agency, during a difficult phone call about the remuneration of screenwriters, according to a new legal file.
WME revealed the accusation against Writers Guild of America executive director David Young in court documents on Wednesday, asking a federal judge to step in to force a settlement in the long standoff between WME and WGA over the new rules guild engagement for agents.
Rosen, head of WME’s television department, told newspapers in the Central District of California on Tuesday that Young “had repeatedly threatened to ‘kill’ me during a phone call on August 11, 2020.”
After the call, Rosen testified in a written statement that he called WGAW President David Goodman, “noting that he had” a good working relationship “with the union boss.
“I informed Mr. Goodman of Mr. Young’s threats against me,” Rosen said in the statement Tuesday. Mr. Goodman replied “Oh my God”, which I interpreted to mean “this is terrible” but “not surprisingly”. This shows me that this behavior of Mr. Young is both expected and tolerated by the guilds.
The allegedly angry phone call, which Rosen called “irrational” and “astonishing,” came after the executive sent an internal memo to WME agents advising them of the breakdown in talks with WGA.
A WGA representative denied that Young threatened Rosen and said Young and Goodman declined to comment on the alleged incident.
The representative added that WME and its rival agency CAA are not seeking to “resolve their own conflicting practices” amid the ongoing legal brawl between the guild and the agencies over the remuneration of writers.
“WME and CAA will have the opportunity to bring writers back when they return to the table when they stop attacking us and take seriously the work of reforming their own deep conflicts,” Goodman said in a statement. “Unfounded legal actions will not save them from this.”
The alleged death threats follow a year and a half filled with drama, during which the guild asked its members, including Tina Fey, Shonda RImes and Lena Waith, to fire their agents for what they saw as a unfair compensation.
During the year, the guild convinced more than 100 agencies, including bigger players like UTA and ICM, to sign their updated agreement, which ended “packaging,” a practice that allows companies production to pay fees to talent agencies. pool their talents for a movie or TV series.
The deal also limited agencies to a 20% stake in affiliated production companies. WME and CAA have production companies and have tried to negotiate with the WGA on how to comply with the new rules.
WME attorney Jeffrey Kessler on Wednesday called on the judge to stop the boycott of writers because the stalemate has hurt his business. The CAA filed a similar request on Tuesday.
Questioning the legality of the boycott, the lawyer said that WME had “lost over a thousand clients who had been forced to terminate WME on instructions from the guilds, and once severed, those client relationships may no longer exist. never come back.
While a representative from WGA acknowledged that discussions with WME were “productive,” he said that for a month, the agency ignored “repeated” requests for “additional information on their business structure in order to provide them with such language ”.
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