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In film industry terminology, movie packaging or film packaging is a type of product bundling where a top level talent agency starts up a film or television project using writers, directors and/or actors it represents, before giving other agencies a chance to submit their clients for the project. For this service the talent agency negotiates a packaging fee. Instead of collecting the usual 10% fee from individual clients, the agency receives the equivalent of 5% of what the studio or network pays the production company; 5% of half of any profit the production company earns; and 15% of adjusted gross (syndication revenue minus costs the network does not pay).
Packaging can be much more lucrative for agencies than the usual 10% fee; in 1989 The New York Times reported that a major agency could earn $21,000 to $100,000 for each episode of a network show.Packaging is frequently done by the major talent agencies Creative Artists Agency, Endeavor, ICM Partners, and United Talent Agency. Although packaging has existed since the Golden Age of Radio, in the late 1970s Michael Ovitz of CAA was the first to package movies. This is disputed as Freddie Fields and David Begelman have been credited with pioneering the movie "package" at CMA in the early 70s. WGA West estimated that 87% of TV shows were packaged during the 2016-2017 season.
Packaging as a practice has been criticized by several writers, directors, and actors as inherently causing a major conflict of interest between the agency and its clients.In 2019, David Simon published a letter detailing how packaging incentivized his agents to work against his best interests on the deal for Homicide: Life on the Street . Simon's letter eventually led to a breakdown between the WGA and the Association of Talent Agents (ATA), the group representing the major agencies, when the sides were unable to negotiate a "Code Of Conduct" agreement that addressed the concerns of packaging, resulting in the mass firing of talent agents by all WGA members on April 15, 2019.
On April 17, 2019, the two Writers Guild of America groups, WGA East and WGA West, sued the "big four" packaging agencies, claiming that packaging fees are an “egregious conflict of interest” that “constitute unlawful kickbacks” from the studios to the agencies.
The lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court against the four dominant Hollywood talent agencies: William Morris Endeavor, Creative Artists Agency, United Talent Agency and ICM Partners.Approximately 95 percent of WGA members voted "in favor of a code of conduct that would cease packaging fees."
Creative Artists Agency LLC (CAA) is an American talent and sports agency based in Los Angeles, California. It is regarded as an influential company in the talent agency business and manages numerous clients. In March 2016, CAA had 1,800 employees.
ICM Partners is a talent and literary agency with offices in Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C. and London. ICM Partners represents clients in the fields of motion pictures, television, music, publishing, live performance, branded entertainment and new media. Its corporate headquarters are in Constellation Place in Century City, Los Angeles.
A talent agent, or booking agent, is a person who finds jobs for actors, authors, broadcast journalists, film directors, musicians, models, professional athletes, screenwriters, writers, and other professionals in various entertainment or broadcast businesses. In addition, an agent defends, supports and promotes the interest of their clients. Talent agencies specialize, either by creating departments within the agency or developing entire agencies that primarily or wholly represent one specialty. For example, there are modeling agencies, commercial talent agencies, literary agencies, voice-over agencies, broadcast journalist agencies, sports agencies, music agencies and many more.
Ariel Zev Emanuel is an American businessman and the CEO of Endeavor, an entertainment and media agency. He was a founding partner of the Endeavor Talent Agency and was instrumental in shaping its June 2009 merger with the William Morris Agency.
United Talent Agency (UTA) is a global talent agency based in Beverly Hills, California. Established in 1991, it represents artists and other professionals across the entertainment industry. As of 2021, the company has more than 1,400 global employees. UTA has divisions focused on film, television, sports, digital, books, music, video games, branding and licensing, speaking, marketing, fine arts, news, and broadcasting, among others. The agency also operates the non-profit UTA Foundation.
The Endeavor Talent Agency was a Beverly Hills-based talent agency founded by Ari Emanuel, Rick Rosen, Tom Strickler, and David Greenblatt. It was launched in March 1995 and went on to represent a wide variety of acclaimed film and television stars. In April 2009, Emanuel and Endeavor executive Patrick Whitesell orchestrated a merger with the William Morris Agency, resulting in William Morris Endeavor. William Morris Endeavor was renamed Endeavor in October 2017.
The Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) is a labor union representing film and television writers as well as employees of television and radio news.
The Writers Guild of America West (WGAW) is a labor union representing film, television, radio, and new media writers. It was formed in 1954 from five organizations representing writers, including the Screen Writers Guild. It has around 20,000 members.
APA is one of the largest diversified talent agencies in entertainment industry with headquarters in Los Angeles, New York, Nashville, Atlanta, Toronto and London. Founded in 1962 in New York by a group of former MCA agents, the company represents actors, writers, producers, showrunners, directors, performers, physical production services, film studios, and luxury and lifestyle brands across all media platforms worldwide. The agency also packages feature films, as well as television series such as Away on Netflix, The Dublin Murders on Showtime, All Rise on CBS, and For Life on ABC, as well as classic TV series Home Improvement and Roseanne. APA was one of the first of the top 5 packaging agencies to sign the WGA's new franchise agreement on January 21, 2020, when the agency integrated its Television and Motion Picture departments under one APA Scripted Literary banner to provide distinct and effective service in a marketplace driven by content creators and global streaming.
Jeremy Pikser is an American screenwriter. Pikser is best known for Bulworth, which was nominated for Academy, Golden Globe and WGA Awards for Best Screenplay, and won the Los Angeles Film Critics' Best Screenplay award for 1998.
Endeavor Group Holdings, Inc. is an American holding company for talent and media agencies with its primary offices in Beverly Hills, California, United States. The company was founded in April 2009 after the merger of the William Morris Agency and the original Endeavor Talent Agency. Endeavor represents artists in movies, television, music, theater, digital media, and publishing. It also represents the NFL and NHL. Endeavor owns the Ultimate Fighting Championship and Miss Universe. It is headed by CEO Ari Emanuel and executive chairman Patrick Whitesell.
Jonathan Fernandez is an American writer and producer. He wrote the film Rob The Mob starring Michael Pitt, Nina Arianda, Andy Garcia, Ray Romano, and directed by Raymond DeFellitta based on the true-life story of Thomas Uva and Rose Marie De Toma His first film, Crisis In The Kremlin, was written for producer Roger Corman. He has written for Star Trek: Enterprise. He was the executive producer of the Kurt Russell film Breakdown which opened at number one at the box office. Fernandez worked as a production executive for Dino De Laurentiis and Roger Corman. His book WINNING ESSAYS was published by Berkley/G.P. Putnam's Sons.
Samuel Charles Cohn was an American talent agent at International Creative Management, a firm he helped create, in the borough of Manhattan in New York City.
The William Morris Agency (WMA) was a Hollywood-based talent agency. It represented some of the best known 20th-century entertainers in film, television, and music. During its 109-year tenure it came to be regarded as the "first great talent agency in show business".
David A. Unger is CEO of Artist International Group, a global talent management, branding and content production company representing clients in the fields of film, television and media advisory. Born in London, Unger has served as a talent and literary agent for over 20 years.
Gavin Polone is an American film and television producer. He began producing films in the late 1990s and television in the 2000s. He has been nominated for seven Primetime Emmy Awards, of which six were for "Outstanding Comedy Series" for Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm. His production company is Pariah.
The Gersh Agency is a talent and literary agency established in 1949 by Phil Gersh, based in Beverly Hills, California and New York City. The Gersh Agency is the sixth largest talent agency in the United States.
David Guggenheim is an American screenwriter, producer, and novelist, best known for writing the 2012 films Safe House and Stolen, as well as creating and writing for the 2016 television series Designated Survivor. In 2013, the film rights to a suspense novel published by Little, Brown and Company that Guggenheim co-wrote with Nicholas Mennuti entitled Weaponized, were purchased by Bluegrass Films and Guggenheim was attached as screenwriter. He also worked on an earlier draft of Bad Boys for Life, and the screenplays for Uncharted and the upcoming film Narco Sub.
Jay Sures is an American entertainment industry executive and talent agent, currently serving as co-president of United Talent Agency.
Marc Bernardin is an American journalist, public speaker, TV and comic book writer, and podcaster. He has served as film editor for the Los Angeles Times and senior editor for The Hollywood Reporter and Entertainment Weekly. He has written for GQ, Wired, Details, Vulture, Playboy, andEmpire. He has been a staff writer for Castle Rock, Treadstone and Carnival Row, and is currently a supervising producer on Star Trek: Picard.