On December 30, 2020, the Central District of California rejected an attempt by talent agency William Morris Endeavor (“WME”) to preliminarily enjoin the campaign by Writers Guild of America, West and Writers Guild of America, East (“the Guilds”) to eliminate talent agencies’ conflicts of interest. WME sought to enjoin the Guilds from enforcing a talent agent Code of Conduct, which bars talent agencies that are authorized to represent Guild members from providing conflicted representation to Guild members.
In April 2019, the Guilds adopted the Code of Conduct, which bars talent agency practices that result in serious financial conflicts of interest between Guild members and the talent agencies that the Guilds authorize to represent Guild members. At that time, thousands of Guild members terminated their representation by talent agents who had not signed the Code. Since that time, every talent agency in the industry except for WME has agreed to terms with the Guilds that prevent the talent agency from engaging in these serious financial conflicts of interest, allowing Guild members to resume representation by agencies other than WME. In the lawsuit, WME challenges the Code of Conduct under federal antitrust law and, via its preliminary injunction motion, sought a court order permitting WME to represent Guild members, during the duration of the lawsuit, without abiding by the same restrictions that apply to every other talent agency. As a result of defeating that motion, the Guilds may continue their campaign of ensuring that talent agencies that represent Guild members put Guild members’ interests first. The Guilds and an individual writer-plaintiff are also continuing to pursue counterclaims against WME for breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, and California antitrust violations.
Altshuler Berzon is lead counsel representing the Guilds and individual writer-plaintiff in this litigation, William Morris Endeavor Entertainment LLC v. Writers Guild of America, West, Inc. et al. You can read the decision here.