How Hollywood Agencies Pivoted in Pandemic: Downsizing, Streaming and Making Peace With Writers

Umberto Gonzalez
·1 min read

Hollywood’s movie studios weren’t the only industry players that shifted business models during the pandemic. The talent agency business was rocked to its core as well. In the early months of the pandemic, live events and movie and TV productions ground to a halt — and with them went the agencies’ primary sources of revenue. Soon enough, there were thousands of layoffs and furloughs at UTA, Paradigm, ICM Partners, APA, CAA and WME. “You have to try to bring costs down more in line with revenues,” one agency insider explained. “All the agencies had to make that tough call based on recurring revenues and what you had coming in… And you always have to keep those options on the table the longer the pandemic drags on. It’s hard to find new money to make up for that loss.” The revenue crunch felt by the agencies led most of them to do what had been thought unthinkable: cave to the three-year campaign by the Writers Guild of America to end the practice of packaging — bringing together different talent elements of a film or TV project and collecting fees from the studio on top of commissions from individual clients. The guild’s...

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