WME threatened to ‘blow up’ the ‘Good Doctor’ deal over packaging fees, showrunner says

“The Good Doctor” has become a big hit for ABC. Millions of viewers have embraced the drama about a young surgeon with autism and savant syndrome who solves medical mysteries at a prestigious Bay Area hospital.

But the critically acclaimed drama had a touch-and-go moment of its own — before shooting even began.

In an interview this week with the Los Angeles Times, the show’s executive producer , David Shore, described a tussle that he had with a major Hollywood talent agency as he prepared to pitch the show to ABC programming executives in 2016. The fight was over packaging fees, the longstanding industry practice of talent agencies taking fees for putting together a lineup of their clients — actors, writers and directors — for a show, rather than receiving the customary 10% commission on each client’s fee.

Ending packaging fees has become a rallying issue for writers, including Shore, whose union has taken the unusual step of asking its members to fire their agents when they would not agree to renounce packaging fees and other practices that writers say pose conflicts of interest for the agents. Shore says packaging fees are part of a larger problem: agencies that are looking out for their own financial bottom lines and not the careers and earnings of their clients.

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