LOS ANGELES (AP) — Hollywood writers have been picketing to keep wages and job security out of major studios and banners, bracing for a drawn-out battle at the start of a strike that promptly shut down late-night shows, paused other productions and shut down entire productions. Industry slowdown in turn.
The first Hollywood strike In a 15-year period that began on Tuesday as the 11,500 Writers Guild of America members quit work when their contract expired.
The union seeks a higher minimum wage, more writers per show, less exclusivity on individual projects, among other demands — all terms it says have diminished in the content boom of the broadcast age.
“Everything has changed, but the money has changed in the wrong direction,” said Kelly Galuska, 39, a writer for The Bear. on FX and Netflix’s “Big Mouth,” who camped out at Fox Studios in Los Angeles with her 3-week-old daughter. “It’s a turning point in the industry right now. And if we don’t go back to Till, we’ll never go back.”
The last Hollywood strike, from the same union in 2007 and 2008, took three months to resolve. With no talks or even plans to talk pending between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents studios and production companies, there’s no telling how long writers will have to go unpaid, or how many major productions will be delayed. or default or cancellation.
“We’ll stay out as long as it takes,” said Josh Gad, writer of shows including “Central Park” and actor in films including “Frozen,” of the Fox set.
AMPTP said in a statement that it had made an offer that included “generous increases in compensation for writers as well as improvements in tailings flow” and that it was willing to improve its bid “but was unwilling to do so due to the magnitude of other proposals still on the table that the union continues to insist on.” .
The writers were well aware that discontinuance was likely. However, the halting of contractual talks hours before the deadline that negotiations in previous years passed by hours or even days, and the sudden reality of the strike, left some stunned, some concerned, and some determined.
“When I saw the refusal to respond and the refusal to even negotiate by AMPTP, I was lit on fire to get out here and stand up for what we deserve,” Guntyre Gadson, a writer whose credits include “A Black Lady Sketch Show,” said on a picket line at Amazon Studios while holding a book sign. On her, “I hate it here.”
All the late-night shows run by writers who do monologues and jokes for their hosts are instantly gone. NBC’s The Tonight Show, Comedy Central’s Daily Show, ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live, CBS’s “The Late Show,” and NBC’s Late Night have all made plans to bring back the show during the week.
NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” which was set to air a new episode Saturday, is also going dark and reruns, and the remaining two episodes of the season are in jeopardy.
It’s likely that the strike’s impact on scripted series and movies will take longer to notice — though some shows, including Showtime’s “Yellowjackets,” have paused production on upcoming seasons.
If the strike continues through the summer, TV schedules could flip in the fall. Meanwhile, those with completed scripts are allowed to continue filming.
Guild members also picketed New York, where lesser-known writers were joined by more established peers like playwright and screenwriter Tony Kushner (“The Fabelmans”) and “Dopesick” creator Danny Strong.
Some actors including Rob Lowe joined the strike lines in support in Los Angeles. Many amazing writers, like Gad, are hybrids who combine writing with other roles.
Speaking from his acting side, Gad said of his fellow writers, “We are nothing without their words. We have nothing without them. And so it is imperative that we solve this problem in a way that benefits the brilliance that comes from each of these people.”
The flip side of his spin-off role in the same space could soon be coming, with many of the same issues at the center of negotiations for both actors’ union SAG-AFTRA and the Directors Guild of America. Contracts for both expire in June.
Broadcasting has increased the number of series and films being produced annually, which means more job opportunities for writers. But the authors say they were forced to reduce profit under the changing and insecure conditions that the WGA called “the gig economy within the unionized workforce.”
The syndicate is seeking more compensation for writers upfront, because many of the pay writers who historically benefited from the back end—such as the syndicate and international licensing—were largely phased out with the onset of broadcasting.
Galuska said she’s among the writers who haven’t seen this kind of co-benefit before.
“I’ve had the opportunity to write for great shows that are very, very popular and I haven’t really seen compensation for that, unfortunately,” she said.
AMPTP said the sticking points in a deal revolved around so-called petty rooms — the union is looking for a minimum number of clerks per writer’s room — and the duration of employment contracts.
The book also seeks more regulation around the use of artificial intelligence, which the WGA writers say could give producers a shortcut to finish their work.
“The fact that companies have refused to engage with us on this fact means that I am more apprehensive about it today than I was a week ago. They clearly have a plan. The things they say no to are the things they plan to do tomorrow.” ___
Jake Quayle and David Boder contributed in New York, and Christa Fauria and Jonathan Landrum Jr. in Los Angeles.
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