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AGENCY NEWS: William Morris Adds Agent For Canadian Market … And More!

Tinti Moffat has joined the Nashville office of the William Morris Agency to represent its country roster in
Canada. Moffat previously worked for Balmur, Ltd., management company for Anne Murray, and moved
to Nashville in 1992 to open
the company's office there, where she remained until last fall.

Jill Smoller Joins William Morris Agency From AMG

Jill Smoller has joined the William Morris Agency as VP, Sports Marketing, a newly created division. Her clients include Ashley Harkleraod, Pete Sampras, Serena Williams and sportscasters Tim Ryan and Rick Fox. She was previously with AMG, Mike Ovitz's company, and prior to AMG, she was with ICM.

Smoller will handle representation for athletes and sports figures in motion picture, television, commercial, licensing, broadcast and sponsorship deals.

SAG Rejects Actors and Agents Pact

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Actors and the talent agents who find work for them in television shows, movies and commercials are working without a script governing their relationship after the Screen Actors Guild rejected a new pact between the two groups.

For the first time since 1939, agents who represent SAG members are unfettered by rules that limit their commission to 10 percent or prevent agents from investing in, or being owned by, advertising agencies or studios.

Actors are left wondering how to proceed without safeguards against unscrupulous agents taking advantage of them.

Observers say little will change in the short run and that agents will not rush to change the status quo.

"State law and common practice will keep people from being taken advantage of," said state Sen. Kevin Murray, who serves on a special Senate committee looking into the regulation of talent agencies and is a former agent himself.

The rules governing the relationship between actors and agents were drawn to ensure that agents work only for their clients and are not influenced by studios or advertising agencies that hire actors for commercials or sponsor television programs.

But the rules had not kept pace with new economic realities, changes in technology that provided new sources of revenue for actors and the rise of "managers," who guide actors' careers, but are not prevented from producing films and television shows the way agents are.

The new agreement, voted down by SAG's rank and file on Friday, would have allowed talent agencies to make limited investments in independent production companies or sell minority stakes to those companies. It also allowed agents to collect commissions on royalties generated by video and DVD sales.

Proponents, including current SAG President Melissa Gilbert, said the agreement reflected changing realities while still protecting actors.

Opponents said the pact created a potential conflict of interest. If agents were allowed a financial interest in production companies, they argued, then they would in effect employ the very actor they were hired to represent.

Without the so-called "franchise agreement" between SAG and agents, state law and agreements with other guilds will govern agent behavior, according to the Association of Talent Agents. California law, for instance, allows commissions of more than 10 percent to be charged, while New York law does not.

But a showdown may come if SAG tries to prevent members from signing contracts with agents that differ from the 63-year-old agreement that expired in January. ATA has said it will challenge such an action in court.

Agents also say they will not head back to the bargaining table with SAG anytime soon.

ATA reached a deal similar to the one rejected by SAG with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, a guild that also represents many SAG members. That deal did not have to be approved by AFTRA members. It takes effect in July.


On the Net:

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Association of Talent Agents: