Writing for The Hollywood Reporter, Rebecca Sun and Jonathan Handel look at the controversy over agencies investing in TV and movies:
“The headline is that it’s bad for creators,” declares The Good Fight co-creator Robert King, who, notably, is a client of Paradigm, one of the agencies not moving into ownership (yet). “This is a black-and- white situation where agencies should not be a boss to clients.”
Even some agents are puzzled: “Who are you representing? Do you have [the writer’s] back or your back?” says Verve co-founder and partner Bryan Besser. “How do you have both backs?”
The article is one of the first I’ve read that gets agents on the record, but either the journalists didn’t ask or couldn’t get an answer to Besser’s fundamental question: How can agencies defend the conflict of interest inherent in employing their own clients?
The closest anyone gets to addressing the issue comes as simple whataboutism:
Agencies say they remain mystified as to why the WGA is beating up on them when talent management firms — an adjacent business — have been free to produce and own content for decades.
Officer, why is it a problem for us to run red lights when ambulances have been doing it forever?
Agents and managers aren’t the same thing, and agents know it. Agencies are defined under California law, with specific restrictions on what they can do and how much they can charge. They’re supposed to have a fiduciary responsibility to their clients. That means putting the interests of their clients before their own interests.
If we can’t expect that from our agents, we need better agents.
If they can’t earn enough off of 10% of our income, they should focus on getting us paid more.