SAG Agency Relations Updates
- SAG’s Agency Regulations [a/k/a Rule 16(g)] originally created in 1939.
- 16(g) negotiated with the Association of Talent Agents (“ATA”), a non-profit trade association representing some of today’s major talent agencies, such as Innovative, Endeavor, CAA, ICM, UTA and William Morris.
- April 20, 2000: ATA opens negotiations with SAG demanding “financial interest,” i.e., the right to invest in, or be invested in, by ad agencies, advertisers and independent producers. [+ additional commissions]. SAG opposes--viewing financial interest to be an irreconcilable conflict of interest for talent representatives trying to get highest possible quote for talent.
- October 20, 2000: SAG-ATA Basic Contract expires; no new agreement reached.
- Between October 20, 2000 and January 20, 2002: Contractual 15 month status quo period while parties attempt to re-open negotiations.
- In February 2002: Tentative agreement reached with ATA including “limited” financial interest opportunities, subject to several layers of protections for SAG members.
- March 11, 2002: Divided National Board recommends negotiated SAG-ATA Agency Agreement to the general membership.
- April 20, 2002: For the first time in 69 years, SAG membership referendum rejects the negotiated agreement with agents. Result: as of January 20, 2002, SAG members represented by ATA agencies in technical violation of the SAG Constitution because their agents were no longer franchised. Approximately 20-25,000 performers are affected.
- April 21, 2002: SAG National Board unanimously votes to temporarily suspend enforcement of Rule 16(a) of SAG Constitution (with respect to SAG members represented by ATA agents) so that its members are not subjected to disciplinary proceedings while the Board decides how to resolve ATA crisis. No change has occurred since this date.
Accordingly, SAG performers may currently be represented by two types of agents:
- SAG-franchised agents—still complying with Rule 16(g). Currently, 325 franchised nationally.
- Formerly franchised, ATA/NATR agents—no Rule 16(g) protections for performers. Members likely asked to sign “General Services Agreements” (GSAs) [a/k/a/ “Talent Agency Agreements”], which should be reviewed by SAG prior to signing. ATA has agents in Hollywood, New York, Atlanta, Chicago and San Francisco.
General Services Agreements
Facts About ATA Agents’ General Services Agreements (“GSAs”)
- GSAs may make all of an actor’s income commissionable: Agents may commission, at SAG scale, every dollar earned by the actor, including, but not limited to, all payments for television and theatrical work (including residuals), all payments for commercial work (including residuals), and all penalties (e.g., including expenses, allowances and violations).
- GSAs may limit an actor’s representation choices: GSAs may restrict an actor’s ability to engage separate representation for different areas of work (e.g., a separate agent for Commercials and TV/Theatricals). GSAs may assume worldwide representation in all areas of the entertainment business for any media now in existence or later created. GSAs may also restrict an Actor’s ability to engage the services of a personal manager or an attorney.
- GSAs may create indemnification rights: GSAs may require an actor to personally indemnify an agent in instances where the Actor's company enters into an agreement with the agent and a dispute arises. GSAs may make the actor primarily liable, as well as jointly and severally liable, for all actions of his/her company.
- GSAs may make check authorizations in favor of the agent irrevocable.
- GSAs may restrict the Actor’s ability to terminate agency contracts: GSAs may limit both series performers’ and day players’ abilities to terminate an agency contract based on lack of employment or even an agent’s material breach of said contract.
Signing a GSA
What to do if an Actor is handed a GSA to sign:
- Attempt to negotiate terms and conditions that are similar to, or better than, those in the standard SAG Agency Agreement.
- Seek independent legal advice prior to signing any contract that is NOT a SAG Contract.
- Immediately notify SAG’s Agency Department (in LA: 323-549-6745; in New York, 212-863-4305) and provide the Guild with a copy of the GSA so that the union may assist you in reviewing it.