Hollywood writers go on strike, shutting down TV and film production

Hollywood’s 15-year labor peace was shattered on Tuesday, as film and television writers went on strike, halting production and dealing a blow to an industry rocked in recent years by the pandemic and sweeping technological changes.

Unions representing writers a Report, hours before their three-year contract was set to expire at midnight Pacific time, they “voted unanimously to call a strike.” The writers will begin their sit-in on Tuesday afternoon.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which negotiates on behalf of Hollywood companies, said in a statement that its offer included a “generous increase in writers’ compensation.” The organization further stated that it is ready to continue negotiations.

The primary sticking points include union proposals that would require companies to produce television shows with a certain number of writers for a certain period of time, “whether they want it or not,” according to the studios.

The unions representing writers, the Eastern and Western branches of the Writers Guild of America, said, “The companies’ behavior has created a gig economy within a unionized workforce, and their unwavering stance in these negotiations betrays a commitment to further devalue the writing profession.”

Chris Keyser, co-chairman of the WGA negotiating team, said in an interview that “philosophically and practically, we’re a long way off.”

The dispute has pitted 11,500 screenwriters against major studios, including old-guard entertainment companies like Universal and Paramount, as well as tech newcomers like Netflix, Amazon and Apple.

The WGA portrayed the dispute in stark terms, saying the rise of streaming services and the explosion of television production had eroded their working conditions. It described it as an “existential” moment and that “the very survival of writing as a profession is at stake in this negotiation”.

Entertainment companies, which previously said they were approaching negotiations with “the long-term health and stability of the industry as our priority,” face a rapidly changing business as network and cable TV audiences decline.

For the audience, the most immediate effect is felt in speech and sketch shows. Late night shows such as “Saturday Night Live,” “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” will immediately go dark. Reality series not covered by Guild and some international shows will be aired in strict rotation.

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It will take a long strike before there is a slowdown in the arrival of new TV shows and movies, as their production process can take months or even more than a year.

Prolonged production shutdowns will hurt local economies, particularly workers who support manufacturing such as drivers, dry cleaners, caterers, set carpenters and woodshop workers. The last time writers went on strike, for 100 days in 2007, the Los Angeles economy lost an estimated $2.1 billion.

Seth Meyers, host of NBC’s 12:30 a.m. show, noted the devastation of the latest strike in a segment last weekend.

“It doesn’t just affect writers,” said Mr. Meyers said Video only on the web. “It affects all the incredible non-writing staff at these shows. It’s a really pathetic thing for people to have to go through, especially considering we’re on the heels of that awful epidemic.”

Mr. Meyers said he was a proud member of the WGA and felt strongly that what the writers were asking was “not unreasonable.”

“If you don’t see me here next week, know that this is not something done lightly and I will be heartbroken to lose you,” he said.

The authors have raised several objections. At the turn of the moment, the authors seek to place significant security barriers around the use of artificial intelligence. But the most important issue for them is compensation.

Over the past decade, a period often referred to as Peak TV, the number of scripted television programs broadcast in the United States has risen sharply. Writers say their wages have stagnated.

In the era of network television, a writer could land a job on a show with more than 20 episodes a season, providing a steady living for an entire year. However, in the streaming era, episode orders have dropped to 8 or 12, and the average weekly pay for a writer-producer has fallen slightly, according to the WGA.

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The writers also want to adjust the formula for residual fees raised by streaming. Years ago, writers could receive residual payments whenever a show was licensed — either in syndication or through DVD sales. But global streaming services like Netflix and Amazon have cut off those distribution arms, paying a fixed residual instead.

Unions have taken particular aim at the so-called minirooms that have proliferated over the past decade. There is no single definition of a miniroom. But in one example, studios assemble a small group of writers before a show is given the official green light to compose a script. But WGA officials have said that writers are paid less for working in minirooms.

The writers also said that the sudden growth of minirooms has also disrupted the decades-old art of learning how to make a television show. “The Good Place” creator and “Parks and Recreation” co-creator Mike Schur said in an interview that he learned how to write, rewrite and edit scripts as a young writer on “The Office.” , works with actors and is well versed in specialized crafts like set design and sound mixing.

“It’s not stuff you can read in a book,” he said. “These are the things you have to enjoy.”

But because of the minirooms, writers are sent home after 10 weeks and often don’t get to the production process, he said.

“These companies don’t understand what’s going on,” he said. “And coming on board is a whole generation of show creators who may be very talented, who have a lot to say about the world, but don’t know how to do the work they’re being asked to do. Do.”

Studio executives, however, have said privately that they have their own problems and that this is not the best time to offer significant raises.

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For years, Wall Street rewarded media companies for investing in their streaming services at any cost to grow their subscriber base. But investors discouraged that philosophy last year, prompting studio executives to find a way to turn their money-losing streaming services into profit machines.

The fall is brutal. Disney is in the process of laying off 7,000 employees. Warner Bros. Discovery made headlines last year as it laid off thousands and tried to pay down about $50 billion in debt. Other media companies have taken similar cost-saving measures.

Due to this, the executives also argued that they may go on strike. Last month, David Zaslau, chief executive of Warner Bros. Discovery, said, “We have prepared ourselves, we have a lot of content produced.” Two weeks ago, Netflix co-chief executive Ted Sarandos suggested the streaming service would be better protected than its rivals because of how many unscripted and foreign series it has in production. “We can serve our members better than ever,” he said.

However, he acknowledged that the effects of the strike would be significant.

“The last time there was a strike, it was devastating for creators,” Mr. Sarandos said. “It’s been really hard on the industry. It’s been painful for the local economies that support the production, and it’s been really bad for the fans.

The screenwriters have quit six times over the decades. Historically, they have had the stomach for a long strike. In addition to a 100-day walkout in 2007, writers also staged a 153-day sit-in in 1988. Writers have also shown signs of remarkable similarity. By mid-April, 98 percent of the more than 9,000 union-represented writers had authorized a strike.

Writers will hold demonstrations in New York and Los Angeles, where most entertainment companies are located.

Pictures of the pickets are already on social media with the slogan “Scripts don’t grow on trees!” are floated with slogans like and “The future of writing is at stake!”

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