Greetings from the Burgh, where we are working on bringing regular up-to-date briefings on the latest in the Writers’ Guild TV strike (check our newsletter from yesterday on the issues surrounding the divisions between the unions & management).
We will have a podcast with a striking TV writer out later today or early tomorrow. Donate to help us keep covering 11,000 TV & Film writers out on strike.
Why the Studios Balked at Union Demands
So far, the major issues stem from the failure of the big studios to address how streaming has changed the way TV and film writers are paid.
The Writers’ Guild insists that the minimum number of writers on a TV show be boosted from 6 to 12. They also demand more money from residuals from TV shows but so far have been stonewalled by management in their push for more residuals.
On May 1st, after a final day of negotiations, the AMPTP made a tactical decision to take the first step in ending the negotiations about four hours before the midnight PT deadline. Sources close to the situation say that as it became clear the sides were too far apart to bridge the gap, they engaged in a game of bargaining chicken. The AMPTP told WGA negotiators that a better offer would come only if the guild budged on some of its key asks. The WGA did not comply — and then both camps waited to see who would be the first to break it off. Some WGA negotiating committee members hung around AMPTP headquarters in Sherman Oaks until about 8:45 p.m. PT, after their counterparts had left the building.
WGA leadership had no faith that a few more days at the bargaining table would make enough of a difference to reach a deal. Meanwhile, AMPTP member companies are adamant that they came in with a generous offer that has only been sweetened since the formal negotiations began on March 20. But the level of change across the industry over the past decade has been so significant that fear of future unknowns overwhelmed the two parties’ ability to find compromises.
The sides struggled to reach agreement even on a basic set of facts. Depending on whose data you believe, either total writer compensation has never been higher, or overall writer pay rates have never been lower. In this environment, with everyone feeling so much trepidation about what the future holds for film and TV, both sides reverted to defensive postures. After the penultimate WGA-AMPTP meeting ended on the evening of April 30, word began to spread throughout the creative community that the chances of avoiding a strike were slim to none.
“I’m feeling the historical gravity of this moment. I’m worried about how this will affect not just writers but our entire industry,” says Charise Castro Smith, a writer whose credits include 2021’s “Encanto.” “The guild’s proposals are fair, and they reflect the reality that writers shape culture and deserve to be able to provide for their families. So many young writers of color coming into the industry get boxed out or stuck at staff writer or forced to do free work. The future of writing as a profession is at stake.”
Strike Already Causing Massive Delays & Problems for TV Studios
With the Writers Guild out on strike, already TV and film studios are starting to have massive headaches.
Saturday Night Live and all the major late-night TV shows are canceled since they don’t have unionized comedy writers to come up with their jokes.
CBS announced today that they are likely to delay the launch of the announcement of their schedule of TV programs for the fall. MTV may cancel the MTV TV & Film Awards this weekend.
Donate to Help Us Provide Updates on Writers Guild Strike
As things develop quickly in the Writers Guild strike, Payday Report intends to provide the most up-to-date information daily on what’s happening. However, this requires us to take time off of fundraising to focus on reporting.
After Facing Backlash, Jimmy Fallon to Keep Paying His Writers
Yesterday, after NBC’s Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon publicly declared support for striking TV writers, he faced public backlash from some of his TV writers about his support. Fallon’s writers complained that they would no longer receive health insurance or be paid while they were out on strike.
Today in a conference call to employees organized by both Fallon and NBC’s Late Night host Seth Meyers, both programs have agreed to provide two weeks of additional pay to striking writers. Fallon and Myers offered to pay their writers a third week of pay out of their own pockets. Additionally, both programs offered to continue striking writers’ healthcare through September.
The move by Fallon and Meyers could put additional pressure on showrunners to provide financially for their writers during the strike, which many predict could last several months. The last TV writer’s strike in 2007 lasted over 3 months.
Thanks again for all the support.
Love & Solidarity,