The Rothman Brecher Ehrich Livingston Agency Signs Deal With the WGA – Deadline

thumbnail

EXCLUSIVE, Updated with WGA Statement: Respected TV and film literary boutique The Rothman Brecher Ehrich Livingston Agency, a member of Association of Talent Agents, has reached a deal with the Writers Guild.

Rothman Brecher Ehrich Livingston is pleased to announce that it has signed a new Franchise Agreement with the WGA,” the principals said in a statement to Deadline, declining further comment.

RBEL is the fourth established ATA member mid-size agency to break ranks and sign with the WGA, joining another literary boutique, Kaplan Stahler, as well as  Buchwald and Abrams Artists, and comes only a week after the guild’s most recent pact with Abrams Artists. Verve, which is not an ATA member, was the first notable agency with writer clients to reach an agreement with the WGA in May.

WGA logoWGA logo

The WGA’s franchise agreement with the ATA expired in April. That’s when the guild instructed all of its members to fire their agencies if they refused to sign the WGA’s Code of Conduct, which prohibits packaging and agency affiliated production and requires agencies to share their clients’ employment contracts with the guild.

While the main principles have remained the same, some of the terms of the WGA’s proposal evolved over the last seven months. Now called a franchise agreement, it allows agencies to continue packaging for one year, and permits individual agents to own less than 3% of any publicly traded company engaged in the production or distribution of films and TV shows.

These and other modifications to the original code, including a new provision that allows writers to object to their agents turning over their confidential contract information to the guild, alleviating some privacy and fiduciary duty to their clients concerns among agents, have opened the door to mid-tier agencies signing the guild’s new franchise agreement.

In a letter to WGA members sent Monday night, the guild’s Agency Negotiating Committee laid out the terms of the agreement with RBEL. (you can read the letter in full under the story with a link to the agreement.)

Under the Rothman Brecher agreement, packaging fees are banned after a sunset period ending January 22, 2021. In order to induce more agencies to sign, the sunset can, under certain circumstances, be extended.

The agency also agreed to information-sharing with the Guild, including contracts and invoices, which will aid the Guild in enforcing late pay, free work, and other MBA violations.

The agreement includes other modifications to the most-recent franchise agreement, including allowing the agency to have up to a 5% ownership interest in an entity engaged in production or distribution. This limitation protects writers from the egregious conflicts of agency-owned production companies outlined in our recent video, while allowing a minimal ownership share.

The list of WGA franchisees now includes all three well known literary agencies that represent showrunner-level writers, Rothman Brecher Ehrich Livingston, Kaplan Stalher and Verve. They can now all continue/resume to represent writers, which is at the core of their business. 

Additionally, in July, veteran Abrams literary agents Brad Rosenfeld and Paul Weitzman left that agency and partnered with former colleague Karen Kirkland to launch a new agency, Culture Creative Entertainment, which promptly signed the WGA’s franchise agreement.

RBEL was founded in 1991 as The Rothman Agency by Robb Rothman after he left UTA, where he also had been a founding partner. The company changed its name to Rothman Brecher in 2003 when Dan Brecher became partner and to Rothman Brecher Ehrich Livingston in 2017 when senior agents Vanessa Livingston and Jim Ehrich were promoted to name partners.

RBEL moved in to establish itself in the TV-driven boutique lit agency space following the 2006 acquisition of BWCS by ICM Partners. Recent series created or co-created by RBEL clients include CBS’ The Big Bang Theory, Apple TV+’s The Morning Show, NBC’s Marlon, A&E’s Bates Motel, E’s The Arrangement and Netflix’s Travelers.

Here is the WGA Agency Negotiating Committee letter:

Dear Members,

Today the WGA signed a negotiated franchise agreement with the Rothman Brecher Ehrich Livingston Agency. This comes on the heels of last week’s agreement with Abrams Artists Agency, which means both agencies can now represent WGA members again for covered writing services.

Under the Rothman Brecher agreement, packaging fees are banned after a sunset period ending January 22, 2021. In order to induce more agencies to sign, the sunset can, under certain circumstances, be extended.

The agency also agreed to information-sharing with the Guild, including contracts and invoices, which will aid the Guild in enforcing late pay, free work, and other MBA violations.

The agreement includes other modifications to the most-recent franchise agreement, including allowing the agency to have up to a 5% ownership interest in an entity engaged in production or distribution. This limitation protects writers from the egregious conflicts of agency-owned production companies outlined in our recent video, while allowing a minimal ownership share.

You can read the agreement here. Redlines reflect changes made to the Buchwald Franchise Agreement. The most-favored-nations clause means any franchised agency may choose to adopt this agreement if it chooses.

Our goal remains to move the negotiation process forward with the remaining unsigned agencies. We will keep you updated as progress is made.

Back To Top