Underscoring the sense of urgency prevailing throughout the city to resolve the ongoing historic writers’ strike, a group of top executives are attending Wednesday’s negotiating session between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.
Disney CEO Bob Iger and Warner Bros. CEO Discovery David Zaslav, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos, NBCUniversal Studio Group Chairman and Chief Content Officer Donna Langley were all present at the meeting that began around 10 a.m. PT. Hollywood Reporter to learn. It is highly unusual for the industry bargaining representative, AMPTP, to directly include CEOs in bargaining sessions, which are typically led by labor relations representatives and senior AMPTP staff in studio and live; But the industry-wide crisis resulting from ongoing strikes by writers and actors has prompted company leaders to become more directly involved in the talks.
“The CEOs have cleared their schedules and want to sit down and have a real conversation,” one studio source familiar with Wednesday’s negotiations said. This person added that the WGA provided a list of issues in order of importance, from most thorny to least thorny, to the studio before the meeting. “This is long overdue; Everyone feels pain. “Let’s get in there and fix things,” the source said.
THR He has gone to the WGA and AMPTP for comment.
One source on the studio side says company leaders pre-rigged negotiations at Zoom before Wednesday’s bargaining session. “They feel that the smaller the group, the more meaningful it is. They want to walk into a room and know everything,” this person said.
After weeks of a dearth of formal talks, the AMPTP announced on September 14 that the parties would finally return to the negotiating table the following week. “You may not hear from us in the coming days as we negotiate, but know that our focus is on getting a fair deal for writers as soon as possible,” the Writers Guild of America said in its own letter to members.
“I took from the union language via email,” one veteran exhibitor notes of the union’s message [to members] They expect real negotiations. Don’t talk for a while. They didn’t say that the last time they spoke with AMPTP. They are at least hoping/expecting something real.
This isn’t the first time company leaders have dealt directly with the WGA amid the 2023 labor conflict. On August 21, WGA leaders met with Iger, Langley, Zaslav, Sarandos and AMPTP President Carole Lombardini at a Head South rally. Shortly after the meeting, the AMPTP released its August 11 offer to the union, adding that the organization is “firmly committed to ending the strike and hopes that the WGA will work to reach the same resolution.” In its own letter about the meeting, the union claimed that in their meeting with senior executives, “we were met with a lecture on how good their only counter-offer was” and decried the “limitations, loopholes and omissions” in the latest offer.
Studio leaders cleared their schedules in preparation for a delayed Wednesday debate. Multiple sources indicate that if the meeting goes well, the caucus could last into the night. If it is held early, it may be a sign of little progress.
Kim Masters contributed reporting.
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