Hollywood: Screenwriters reach an agreement to end a historic strike

2023-09-25 12:21:11

Image source: Archyde.com

2 hours ago

US screenwriters said they had reached a tentative agreement with studio bosses that could end a strike that has lasted nearly five months.

The Writers Guild of America said the agreement was “extraordinary — with significant gains and protections for writers.” But the final say on the agreement rests with the union members.

This is the longest strike to affect Hollywood in decades and has halted most film and television production.

Hollywood is witnessing another, separate dispute involving striking actors as well.

The writers’ strike cost the American economy about $5 billion, according to estimates by Milken Institute economist Kevin Claudine.

Writers Guild of America leadership and guild members must agree to a three-year contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers before they return to work.

The union’s letter regarding the proposed agreement said that details were still to be finalized, and that it had not yet ended the strike, but that “we are, as of today, suspending the Writers Guild of America picket.”

The dispute led to the halt of work on many of America’s best programs, such as popular television series and evening talk shows.

Series that have been halted as a result of the dispute include The Last of Us, Billions, Stranger Things, The Handmaid’s Tale, Hacks, Severance, Yellowjackets, and Abbott Elementary.

In addition to issues related to wages, writers fear the impact of artificial intelligence that may replace their talent.

Negotiations also broke down over employment levels and financial rights that writers receive for popular broadcast shows. They say that these financial rights are minimal compared to the profits they will receive from a broadcast television program.

Writers usually received additional payments when their programs were repeated on the broadcast network. But the advent of live streaming has affected this.

Writers Guild of America leadership and guild members must agree to a three-year contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers before they return to work.

Many businesses related to work at the studios have been affected, including caterers, costume suppliers, carpenters and camera operators.

In the past few days, the heads of Netflix, Disney, Universal, Warner Bros. and Discovery have attended the negotiations, giving momentum to them.

Actors have also begun a strike since mid-July, and are represented by the SAG-AFTRA union, which includes 160,000 actors, dancers and others.

Hollywood magazine Variety said nightly talk show staff could return to work Tuesday after the announcement, adding that broadcasting could resume in October.

But the Union Negotiating Committee asked in its letter to members to be patient regarding the details of the agreement.

“What remains now is for our employees to ensure that everything we have agreed to is codified in the final contract language,” the union said.

“Although we are keen to share the details of what has been achieved with you, we cannot do so until the final point is in place,” she added.

“Strength and flexibility”

The Sag Aftra union congratulated the striking writers on the outcome and praised “146 days of amazing strength, resilience and solidarity.”

The statement added: “Since the day the Writers Guild strike began, SAG AFTRA members have stood shoulder to shoulder with writers on the picket lines.”

“We remain on strike in our TV/theatrical contract and continue to urge studio and streaming CEOs to return to the table and get the fair deal our members deserve and demand,” the statement said.

“California’s entertainment industry would not be what it is today without our world-class writers,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom.

“I am grateful that both sides came together to reach an agreement that benefits all parties involved and can put a significant portion of California’s economy back to work.”

Hollywood reaction

Image source: EPA

Writers and other Hollywood figures warmly welcomed the news that an agreement had been reached.

American comedian, writer, and talk show host Larry Wilmore said in a post on the X platform: “Finally!!!”

“This strike was very difficult. It was necessary and really difficult. But we won! We fought together,” Alex Sargoza, the writer of the Amazon Free series Primo, wrote.

He added, “Thank you to all our strike leaders who kept us going at every sit-in over the past 146 days. They kept us informed, sheltered from the sun, safe from cars, and feeling encouraged. Love you all!!”

“We came to an agreement,” said writer Carolyn Reynard of Disney’s “The Secret of Sulfur Springs.” “This was the hardest thing I’d worked on in forever.”

“The Shield” star Michael Chiklis said: “Amazing news! Now let’s get this over with and get back to work!”

Actress Cheryl Lee Ralph said at Abbott Elementary School: “Congratulations to the Catalan Union on reaching a preliminary agreement after 146 days of sit-in.”

“SAG AFTRA remains committed to solidarity to achieve the necessary conditions for our members when the time comes for us to return to the table,” she added.

Image source: EPA

Before announcing a potential resolution to the writers’ strike, Happy Valley star James Norton spoke about the ongoing impact of both it and the actors’ strike on workers.

“Many, many crew members are also suffering,” he said at the San Sebastian International Film Festival, where he received permission from the SAG AFTRA guild to promote an independent film.

“There are a lot of people affected by this,” Norton said. “Each department – the caterers, the caterers, so many others – it’s a huge problem.” “For them, not much will change. They are making the ultimate sacrifice for us.”

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