• ×

    Writers Guild and Agencies Aim for Trial in March 2021

    The Writers Guild of America and three major agencies are aiming for a federal trial in March 2021, according to a court filing on Friday.

    Since April, the agencies — UTA, CAA and WME — have been locked in a high-stakes showdown with the writers over packaging fees and affiliate production. The two sides have sued each other in federal court, which each accusing the other of orchestrating an illegal group boycott in violation of federal antitrust law.

    The two sides laid out a proposed schedule for the litigation in a report to U.S. District Judge Andre Birotte on Friday. The parties estimate that a trial would take 20-30 days.

    It is still possible that Birotte could dismiss one or both complaints, or that the two sides could reach a negotiated settlement. But if the case goes all the way to a jury, the standoff between the agents and writers will continue for a long time.

    The guild instructed its members to fire their agents in April, after the agencies refused to sign the guild’s new code of conduct. The code bars agencies from accepting packaging fees or from owning production companies, which the guild sees as a conflict of interest.

    The agencies sued over the summer, alleging that the guild had violated the antitrust laws. The WGA countered that it was immune from the antitrust suit because it was acting on behalf of its members’ benefit. Earlier this month, Birotte indicated that he would deny the WGA’s motion to dismiss the agencies’ lawsuit. A final ruling has not yet been issued.

    The guild countersued the agencies, accusing them of violating the antitrust laws by bargaining solely through the Association of Talent Agents, its trade group. A hearing on the agencies’ motion to dismiss the WGA’s countersuit is set for next month.

    The proposed schedule also sets out timelines for discovery and pretrial motions. A scheduling conference is set for Jan. 10.

    More Biz

    • Recording Academy President/CEO Deborah Dugan participates

      Executive Assistant Preparing Lawsuit Against Ousted Grammy Chief

      In the latest twist in the increasingly bitter exit of Deborah Dugan from the Recording Academy after just five months, the ousted president/CEO is about to face a lawsuit from her former assistant, Claudine Little, who has retained former Harvey Weinstein/ Charlie Walk attorney Patty Glaser to represent her, two sources tell Variety. The news was [...]

    • Two Rivers Media Buys Out Parent

      Two Rivers Media Buys Out Parent Kew Media Group's Stake In Business

      Two Rivers Media has bought out parent group Kew Media Group’s minority stake in the business. Formed by former STV Productions head Alan Clements in January 2019, the production outfit behind Channel 5’s recent “Susan Hill’s Ghost Story” launched with the backing of Kew, Noble Grossart Investments and Channel 4’s Indie Growth Fund. Noble Grossart [...]

    • Grammy Awards 60th Annual Grammy Awards,

      Recording Academy Paid Millions Annually to Outside Law Firms

      Among the concerns listed in a memo sent to the Recording Academy’s head of HR by president/CEO Deborah Dugan before she was placed on administrative leave Thursday was an item about the organization’s “exorbitant and unnecessary” legal fees to outside law firms, according to sources familiar with the document. According to the most recent 990 [...]

    • Chuck D of Public EnemyGods of

      Public Enemy’s Chuck D Slams Grammys Over Deborah Dugan Ouster

      Chuck D, frontman of Public Enemy — who are receiving the Lifetime Achievement Awards at the Grammys next week — posted a long statement on Instagram criticizing the Recording Academy over its sudden ousting of new president/CEO Deborah Dugan yesterday. Dugan, who had been in the job only five months, was placed on administrative leave after [...]

    • Any Given Wednesday With Bill Simmons

      Spotify in Talks to Acquire Bill Simmons' The Ringer: Report

      Spotify is in early talks to acquire The Ringer, the digital content and podcast network launched by ESPN alum Bill Simmons in 2016, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. A representative for Spotify declined to comment on the report. Reps for Ringer did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Spotify’s [...]

    • Deborah Dugan arrives for the 20th

      Deborah Dugan's Recording Academy Ouster Follows Multiple Tussles With Board

      “Change is afoot,” Deborah Dugan said more than once during interviews with Variety in the weeks before her shocking removal from her post as president/CEO of the Recording Academy after just five months on the job. During those conversations, Dugan spoke of changes she planned to make in the Academy’s staffing organization, its Board of [...]

    • Weinstein Trial

      Does Harvey Weinstein's Jury Selection Strategy Make Any Sense?

      Harvey Weinstein’s defense team appeared to have a strategy for jury selection: keep white women off the panel. They didn’t put it that way, because picking jurors based on race or gender is illegal. But on Thursday and again on Friday, prosecutor Joan Illuzzi accused the defense of using its peremptory challenges to systematically exclude [...]

    More From Our Brands

    Access exclusive content