More than a year ago, thousands of writers fired their agents over the practice of packaging fees. Months ago, there was talk of a possible writers’ strike, but the coronavirus pandemic put an end to those plans.
Without the threat of a strike, the Writers Guild may have lost some leverage with the studios, but the studios faced their own struggles with productions shut down.
The two sides have managed to come to a tentative agreement. It provides a new parental leave fund, an additional $200 million in gains over three years, and increased protections around options and exclusivity for writers in a streaming world with shorter TV seasons. However, the WGA says the wins were somewhat diluted due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Meanwhile, the Academy invited more than 800 new members into its Oscars voting body. In the wake of #OscarsSoWhite, the Academy set a goal to double the number of women and people of color in its ranks by 2020. The Academy has now achieved this with its new class of voters.
But the Academy was so overwhelmingly white (92% in 2015) and male to begin with that there’s still a long way to go in its diversity efforts.
Another change to the Academy this year: Agents will be able to vote for the Oscars for the first time. There’s been debate over agents’ inclusion for years, over whether it’s a conflict of interest when an agent’s client is up for an award. But publicists and managers have been able to vote for years. Including agents is another way to increase diversity and add more dues-paying members.