A federal judge has denied the WGA’s request for an eight-week continuance of a hearing date on CAA’s and WME’s motions for a preliminary injunction that would force the guild to drop its group boycott against the agencies.
“We are gratified that the court denied the WGA’s request to delay the preliminary injunction hearing, and adopted the briefing schedule we and WME had proposed,” said Richard Kendall, CAA’s lead counsel on the case. “As we have repeatedly said, CAA is ready, willing, and able to meet with the WGA leadership and its counsel to work through any remaining issues to see if this matter can be resolved before the December 18 hearing that we requested. Otherwise, we look forward to meeting the WGA in court.”
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Earlier this week, WGA attorney Casey Pitts asked U.S. District Court Judge Andre Birotte Jr. for the continuance, saying that “As counsel for CAA is aware, the timing of CAA and WME’s filing is extremely inconvenient for me. Since late January, my husband and I have planned to take off the week of Thanksgiving (Saturday, November 21 through Sunday, November 29) in order to celebrate a significant life milestone. I will not be working during that time. On November 5, 2020, during a phone call with CAA’s counsel Patrick Somers to discuss deposition timing, I informed Mr. Somers that I would be taking this time off. Many of my co-counsel are also unavailable next week. Stacey Leyton, Ethan Litwin, and Andrew Kushner will all be unavailable for portions of the holiday week.”
“Every minute that the Guilds engage in more delays, ignore court orders to mediate, and rebuff CAA’s agreement to the Guilds’ own terms, writers lose out,” CAA said in its motion filed today. “It is inexcusable that the Guilds still deny thousands of their own members the opportunity to benefit from the advocacy of their preferred agents in a challenging marketplace. CAA has agreed to stop packaging and has reduced its ownership in affiliate production to the level the Guilds insisted upon. What in the world are the WGA leaders legitimately protecting writers from at this point? The answer, of course, is that the Guilds’ leaders are not protecting writers, they are serving their own interests— ratcheting up their self-declared “power grab” from CAA and WME—in violation of the antitrust laws and at the irreparable expense of CAA and the Guilds’ own members. The Court should not countenance the Guilds’ delay strategy by postponing the hearing in the matter beyond the 28-day notice period that almost all preliminary injunction motions receive in this District. The Guilds’ ex parte application should be denied.”
The dispute arose in April 2019 when the WGA ordered its members to fire their agents who refused to sign the guild’s Code of Conduct, which banned packaging fees and agency affiliations with related production companies. Since then, every major agency except CAA and WME have signed a modified code that phases out packaging fees and reduces ownership interests of production companies to just 20%.