Blockbuster news out of Hollywood. The Writers Guild of America (WGA) announced late tonight that they will be on strike.
After negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) failed, the union said they would start picketing tomorrow at 1 pm PT.
The Board of Directors of the @WGAwest and the Council of the @WGAeast, acting upon the authority granted to them by their memberships, have voted unanimously to call a strike, effective 12:01 AM, Tuesday, May 2.
— Writers Guild of America West (@WGAWest) May 2, 2023
“Though we negotiated intent on making a fair deal – and though your strike vote gave us the leverage to make some gains – the studios’ responses to our proposals have been wholly insufficient, given the existential crisis writers are facing,” the WGA said in a message to members.
The announcement came three hours before their new film and scripted TV contract officially expired. The last WGA strike was back in 2007-2008. It lasted 100 days. More than 11,000 TV and movie writers are expected to walk off the job.
What the WGA wants
The Writer’s Guild is asking for several changes in their new contract, including:
- Increases in compensation for streaming and new media.
- Ending the practice of mini-rooms, smaller writing rooms where a showrunner and a limited group of writers develop scripts for minimum compensation.
- Increases in contributions to health and pension benefits
- More control over the writers’ work
With the advent of streaming services, the writers say they need a contract that reflects the changing times.
“Writers at every level and in every genre, whether it’s features or TV, we’re all being devalued and financially taken advantage of by the studios,” Danny Tolli, a writer whose credits include “Roswell, New Mexico” and the Shondaland show “The Catch” told The New York Times. “These studios are making billions in profits, and they are spending billions on content — content that we create with our blood, sweat, and tears.”
— Nick Mandernach (@ManderNick) May 2, 2023
The studios push back
AMPTP, which represents studios and streamers such as Amazon, Apple, CBS, Disney, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Paramount Global, Sony, and Warner Bros Discovery, said in a statement that it offered a “comprehensive package proposal.” According to the Hollywood Reporter, the sticking points included the guild’s proposals around minimum writing staff sizes and a minimum number of employment time.
The strike has caused a mad scramble in Hollywood.
“All over town, agents and producers are moving with last minute haste to get deals sewn up before midnight so in some cases, some scribes can get one last paycheck, we hear,” wrote Deadline.
To date, it’s hard to know which shows and productions will be affected by a WGA strike, but the powerful Teamsters union has declared their members “do not cross picket lines.”
Talk shows like The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel Live! and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon will not tape new episodes starting Tuesday night.