A writers’ strike has frozen Hollywood for months. Studios delayed the production of TV shows and movies, including fan favorites like “Stranger Things” and new “Star Wars” films. Organizers postponed the Emmys. Talk shows went on hiatus.
But the strike now seems poised to end. Writers and studios have reached a tentative deal, the Writers Guild of America announced yesterday.
W.G.A. members had demanded higher pay, greater royalties, better working conditions and protections against artificial intelligence. The tentative deal includes most of what the writers sought. In the coming days, union members will vote on whether to approve the agreement.
“We can say, with great pride, that this deal is exceptional — with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership,” the W.G.A. negotiating committee told union members yesterday.
The studios, notably, were not celebrating.
How the deal was done
Negotiations had stalled for months. They regained momentum last week when studio executives, including Disney’s powerful chief executive, Bob Iger, came to the table. After five days, both sides reached an agreement.
The use of A.I. was the final sticking point. The writers didn’t want studios to use their work to teach chatbots how to write, feeding A.I. old scripts so the chatbots could generate writing in a similar style.
The writers also worried that studios would ask chatbots to rewrite or refine the first drafts of their work — for scenes or whole shows. “That’s the nightmare scenario,” said John August, who is on the Writers Guild negotiating committee.
The studios had initially said that too much was unknown about the technology, and that the guild would need to wait to discuss it in future contract negotiations.
But over the weekend, the studios proposed a few paragraphs to be inserted into the new contract that addressed a writers’ concern about A.I. and old scripts. The two sides spent several hours negotiating the language on the final night of talks.
An ongoing shutdown
An end to the writers’ strike would not mean that Hollywood is back to full working order. A separate actors’ strike, led by SAG-AFTRA, is continuing. The actors want 2 percent of the total revenue generated by streaming shows, something that studios have said is a nonstarter. There are no talks scheduled between the two sides.
The combination of the writers’ and actors’ strikes had halted work on shows like “Yellowstone” and movies like the next installment of “Mission Impossible.” More than 100,000 behind-the-scenes staff, like camera operators and makeup artists, are still out of work. The actors’ strike also hindered marketing, by preventing union members from going on press tours.
With writers most likely heading back to work, daytime and late-night talk show hosts like Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon and Jennifer Hudson could soon return to the air.
Earlier this month, some talk show hosts, including Drew Barrymore and Bill Maher, announced that they would bypass the writers’ strike and restart production of their talk shows. After a fierce backlash from their staffs and audiences, they delayed production once again.
More on the strikes
The Writers Guild suspended picketing — but encouraged members to join the striking actors’ picket lines, which will begin again tomorrow.
The stock prices for Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery and Paramount Global have taken a hit during the strikes.
Hollywood writers thanked their negotiators on social media. “You saved our profession,” one wrote.
Hundreds of filmmakers attending an awards gala cheered when the deal was announced from the stage, The Hollywood Reporter writes.
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