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What started as a heated debate between the Writers Guild of America (WGA), which represents thousands of Hollywood writers, and the American Talent Association (ATA), which represents most of those writers’ talent agents, has turned into a nasty brawl.

The latest: On Wednesday, WGA filed a lawsuit against Hollywood’s 4 biggest talent agencies — WME, ICM, CAA and UTA — alleging that the groups have a conflict of interest in representing their writers.

Details: The lawsuit, filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges that the packaging fees that talent agents take as a part of representing writers are illegal under California and federal law. “The plaintiffs will seek a judicial declaration that packaging fees are unlawful and an injunction prohibiting talent agencies from entering into future packaging deals,” WGA West general counsel Tony Segall said in a statement.

  • In response, the ATA said WGA leadership was on a “predetermined path to chaos” and that “leaders are unnecessarily forcing their members and our industry into long-term uncertainty.”

Between the lines: The fundamental issue that’s being disputed is a complicated one. The Guild argues that Hollywood's biggest talent agencies are undercutting the writers they represent by moving from a long-standing percentage-cut payout model to a model focused around packaging fees and production.

  • This has gotten more attention lately as talent agencies continue to invest in production companies and events as new sources of revenue.
  • The 2 groups met several times last week to try to strike a deal before the extended deadline to renew their decades-old former contract expired, but were unable to come to an agreement.

Bottom line: The drama unfolding right now in Hollywood is so unprecedented, it could be its own movie.


Go deeper: Hollywood at war: Thousands of writers told to axe agents at midnight

Go deeper

15 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's latest executive order: Buy American

President Joe R. Biden speaks about the economy before signing executive orders in the State Dining Room at the White House on Friday, Jan 22, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

President Joe Biden will continue his flurry of executive orders on Monday, signing a new directive to require the federal government to “buy American” for products and services.

Why it matters: The executive action is yet another attempt by Biden to accomplish goals administratively without waiting for the backing of Congress. The new order echoes Biden's $400 billion campaign pledge to increase government purchases of American goods.

Tech digs in for long domestic terror fight

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

With domestic extremist networks scrambling to regroup online, experts fear the next attack could come from a radicalized individual — much harder than coordinated mass events for law enforcement and platforms to detect or deter.

The big picture: Companies like Facebook and Twitter stepped up enforcement and their conversations with law enforcement ahead of Inauguration Day. But they'll be tested as the threat rises that impatient lone-wolf attackers will lash out.

The pandemic could be worsening childhood obesity

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The 10-month long school closures and the coronavirus pandemic are expected to have a big impact on childhood obesity rates.

Why it matters: About one in five children are obese in the U.S. — an all-time high — with worsening obesity rates across income and racial and ethnic groups, data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey show.

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