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Hollywood Writers Guild Goes On Strike


The take

  • The Writers Guild of America is officially on strike as of Tuesday morning, May 2, 2023. Pencils are down, and picket lines are starting.
  • The guild’s contract with the major studios—including Disney, Netflix, and Discovery-Warner—has expired.
  • Talks between the guild and studios have yet to lead to a new contract.
  • No one knows how long this strike will last.

On Tuesday, May 2, at 12:01 am PT, the Writers Guild of America went on strike. The union’s contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) has expired, and talks between the union and studios—including Amazon, Apple, Disney, Discovery-Warner, NBC Universal, Netflix, Paramount and Sony—have not resulted in a new contract.

Hollywood has been preparing for a strike for months, even though the last strike was fifteen years ago. However, there have been grumblings of a strong negotiation for the streaming era since 2020. (The guild negotiates its contract every three years; the last one was resolved quickly due to COVID-19.)

As people who love TV and movies, you can hopefully understand the writers’ position. Writers create the characters, dialogue, and action you see on screen; without them, there would be no Hollywood. 

Hopefully, you support their need for a contract that pays them fairly and adequately.

What is the Writers Guild asking for?

The last time there was a Hollywood strike, Netflix, Apple, and Amazon weren’t in the content game. (Netflix did not start developing original content until 2011, three years after the last strike concluded.)

Now, the industry has shifted to a streaming model, and the guild believes writers have been left behind while studios, CEOs, and shareholders profit from writers’ work. The guild asked for “fair pay that reflects the value of [writers’] contribution to company success.”

A guild negotiator noted on Twitter that they fought for a deal, but the AMPTP did not meet their demands. The AMPTP rejected or countered every proposal without agreement

The AMPTP said, “The AMPTP presented a comprehensive package proposal to the guild last night, which included generous increases in compensation for writers as well as improvements in streaming residuals. The AMPTP also indicated to the WGA that it is prepared to improve that offer but was unwilling to do so because of the magnitude of other proposals still on the table that the guild continues to insist upon.”

What does this mean for you—a TV and movie lover and viewer?

A big question we’re seeing is what this means for the general viewer. Will your favorite shows still air? Will TV screens go dark? (The answers are maybe and no, respectively.) 

Late-night TV, like The Late Show on CBS and Late Night with Seth Meyers on NBC, is shut down immediately, as are daytime talk show programs. Weekly variety programs like Last Week Tonight on HBO and Saturday Night Live on NBC are also off-air. (Writers for those shows are on strike and cannot write the new episodes for live daily, nightly, and weekly programs.)

Other shows and movies are written and filmed beforehand, so they will be released as scheduled. Studios have also been stockpiling scripts to film during a writers’ strike.

However, over the summer, most network shows (like 9-1-1, Law & Order, and Abbott Elementary) resume production for fall airdates. Without writers and scripts, that can’t happen. Depending on how long the strike lasts, fall TV may be impacted and delayed.  

What’s next?

Writers will begin picketing Tuesday afternoon in Los Angeles and New York. The guild will also host a meeting for its members on Wednesday with more information for moving forward.

The last writer’s strike lasted 100 days in 2007-2008 and stopped production worldwide. This time around, all parties are hoping for a quick resolution.

Also of note: the Directors Guild and Screen Actors Guild will begin negotiations with the AMPTP in the coming weeks. Their contracts expire in June.

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