| 20 July 2024, Saturday |

Striking Hollywood writers, studios meet to discuss resuming talks

As the Hollywood writers’ strike approaches the 100-day mark, Writers Guild of America (WGA) negotiators will meet on Friday with representatives of the major studios for the first time in three months to discuss whether contract talks can resume.

The 11,500 members of the guild walked out May 2, citing an impasse over pay, streaming residuals and other issues such as setting curbs on the use of artificial intelligence. Next Wednesday marks the 100th day of the strike.

Ahead of the meeting, the WGA’s negotiating committee issued a statement to union members, saying it was time for the studios to abandon the tactics they used during the previous writers’ strike in 2007-08, including allegedly spreading misinformation about the real impact of the strike.

“We challenge the studios and AMPTP to come to the meeting they called for this Friday with a new playbook,” the WGA said in an email. “Be willing to make a fair deal and begin to repair the damage your strikes and your business practices have caused the workers in this industry.”

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which negotiates on behalf of Walt Disney, Netflix and other companies, called the WGA rhetoric “unfortunate.”

“Tomorrow’s discussion with the WGA is to determine whether we have a willing bargaining partner,” the AMPTP said in a statement, adding: “Our only playbook is getting people back to work.”

Previously, the group said it had offered writers generous increases in compensation, and put forward improvements in the residuals paid to writers for making their movies and TV shows available on streaming services.

The work stoppage is taking a toll on florists, caterers, costume suppliers and other small businesses that support the entertainment industry. Those impacts were magnified on July 14 when members of the Screen Actors Guild went on strike after being unable to reach an agreement with the studios on a new three-year contract.

The AMPTP issued a statement, saying the actors had walked away from more than $1 billion in wage increases, pension and health contributions and residual increases.

The twin job actions are rippling broadly through the entertainment industry, halting most work on scripted series for the fall TV season, as well as film production. The strikes also cast a pall over British Columbia’s creative industry, which has become a hub for American film and TV production.

Fox is expected to announce that television’s Emmy Awards will be rescheduled to air in January due to the strikes, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing a person familiar with the plans.

Meanwhile, Warner Bros Discovery warned investors Thursday that uncertainty over the dual strikes could delay film releases and impact its ability to produce and deliver content.

Some writers turned to social media Thursday to demonstrate their resolve and solidarity with the negotiating team.

“This strike ends when we get our target deal. NOT before,” wrote Jorge A. Reyes, writer and creator of the series “Kevin Hill,” on the social media platform now known as X.

“And it should be THE BEST DEAL. We didn’t spend this time or come this far to just get something just okay. Something I’m sure our valiant leadership is aware of. We’re behind you, as solidly as we were on Day 1.”

  • Sawt Beirut International