Friend or Foe? Agents, WGA and the Barris/Hawley Rumor Debacle
A showrunner WhatsApp group discovered a whisper campaign led by agents. Then things snowballed
When it comes to the WGA, it wasn’t too long ago that the major agencies were saying all the “right” things. Days after the strike began May 4th, Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel said his company “completely supports” its clients. In July, CAA’s Bryan Lourd took it a step further and personally showed up on a SAG picket line in New York City. Both Emanuel and Lourd — heads of the two most powerful agencies — have offered to help broker peace. It wasn’t unusual even to see an agency-sponsored ice cream truck or pizza lunch on the picket lines.
In recent weeks, however, there’s increasing evidence that solidarity between the WGA and at least some agents is, at best, a tenuous alliance.
Case in point: the so-called canceled meeting between WGA leaders and a few top industry showrunners that has sent an information-starved industry, Xanax-ing through a never-ending strike, into an absolute tizzy. How did a proposed meeting between some showrunners and WGA leadership spin so wildly out of control? The answer, according to several sources? Agents.
“A couple weeks ago, there was a coordinated campaign through the agencies,” a source who supports the guild and is familiar with its thinking tells The Ankler. “They were getting in the ear of clients saying [the WGA] are being crazy, they are totally unreasonable, you have to have a coup.”
News of what WGA members suspected was the agencies’ efforts to sow dissent made its way into a 450-strong showrunners WhatsApp group. The Ankler has learned that dozens of members, including showrunner Robert King (The Good Wife), sounded an alarm telling members to call their agents.