Hollywood Writers’ Guild Leaders Call Off Monthslong Strike

SAG-AFTRA members and supporters walk the picket line as members of the Screen Actors Guild strike in New York on July 19, 2023. (Photo by ANGELA WEISS / AFP)

The leaders of the Writers Guild of America called off a months-long strike that has crippled Hollywood on Tuesday, accepting a wage package negotiated with production studios.

The influential writers’ union’s board of directors “voted unanimously to recommend the agreement,” according to a statement, adding that “the strike ends at 12:01 am” Los Angeles time on Wednesday.

The union’s 11,500 members will have the last say on whether or not to accept the offer, with a vote scheduled between October 2 and 9, according to the organisation.

Details of the agreement disclosed by the WGA on Tuesday appeared to demonstrate a triumph for the authors, who had been lobbying for higher pay amid the disruption of the business due to streaming, as well as protections from artificial intelligence.

Bonuses will be in place for writers on a series that is viewed by 20% or more of a streamer’s domestic subscribers in the first 90 days of its release, which is a gain for writers whose residuals have declined since the Internet age.

AI-generated material cannot also be deemed “source material,” and hence authors’ income is reduced if they work on a script that uses AI.

The WGA also “reserves the right to assert that exploitation of writers’ material to train AI is prohibited,” according to the summary.

Theoretically, the deal can still be rejected by the screenwriters, but most industry experts believe the ratification will be a formality.

Work on stymied TV and film projects can restart while the voting process is being completed.

Late night talk shows are expected to start airing again next month.

Actors’ Strike Still Unresolved 

Thousands of film and television writers went on strike in early May, demanding higher compensation, more prizes for creating blockbuster series, and protection from artificial intelligence.

They have been manning picket lines outside corporations such as Netflix and Disney for months, and were joined by striking actors in mid-July, leaving normally busy Hollywood lots almost empty in a spectacular show of force.

Five days of intense negotiations between the guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the studios, came to a close on Sunday.

Industry watchers expect it will be welcomed by the membership.

“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 guild said Sunday.

WGA member Cylin Busby said while she didn’t know all the details of the deal, she was optimistic.

“The messaging that we’re getting from our union is so positive that I would be shocked if it’s not a really good deal for the writers,” she told AFP on Tuesday.

“I’m ready to get back to work.”

Even if the deal is approved, Hollywood will remain a long way from normal service, with actors — represented by the SAG-AFTRA union — still refusing to work.

A resolution to that stoppage is expected to take a minimum of several more weeks.

Some of SAG-AFTRA’s demands go further than those of the WGA.

And with hundreds of film and television shoots backed up, it could still then take months for Hollywood to clear the logistical logjam and get fully back to work.

Actors were on the picket lines Tuesday outside Netflix, being joined by members of the WGA who were there in support.

“Our strike is over. But the battle goes on until the actors get their deal,” said WGA member Vinnie Wilhelm.

“We would not have gotten the deal that we have gotten if it weren’t for the support of the actors.”

Written by PH

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