WGA Says No Talks W/ Studios & None Scheduled Soon – Game of Thrones Creator Refuses to “Bend the Knee” – Snoop Dogg Throws Down

George R.R. Martin has refused to bend the knee to HBO demands that he continue working (Getty)


Greetings from the Burgh, where it’s been a jam-packed few days as we track all that’s happening in the Writers Guild Strike. We have much to update you on what’s happening, but first, we need your help. 

$45 Needed to Pay Off the Laptop 

Earlier this year, my laptop died, and I was forced into buying a laptop at Best Buy through their “Progressive Leasing Program,” whose interest rates double if you can’t pay it off within three months. 

The Deadline is tomorrow, and I am $45 short of what’s needed. 

Donate to help us pay off the laptop. Please, sign up as one of our 749 recurring donors today.  

WGA Says No Talks W/ Studios in a Week & None Scheduled 

According to union officials, the Writers Guild strike is expected to drag on for some time, possibly many months. 

Yesterday, Writers’ Guild West President Meredith Stiehm said their union had not heard from the Alliance for Motion Picture and Television Producers since talks broke off on May 1st. Furthermore, the union did not expect to hear from the studios for any time but said they were determined to fight for a fair contract. 

“We’ll be here whenever they are available to talk about the real issues,” Stiehm told Deadline. “We didn’t feel like we had a real conversation last time around, so when they’re ready to actually get serious, we’ll be there.”

For more, check out Deadline.

HBO Max & Disney Demanding Showrunners Cross Picket Line

In Hollywood, showrunners are often responsible for writing, directing, and taking leadership in producing and promoting T.V. shows. Many showrunners such as Boots Riley, whose new Amazon show “I Am a Virgo” was slated to be released this early summer, have refused to promote their shows in solidarity with the strike. 

Desperate to release already produced content and keep revenue rolling in, many studios are using legal threats to try to force showrunners to cross the picket line and promote their shows during the strike. Disney, Warner Brothers, and HBO/ HBO Max. 

“HBO/HBO Max expects you to continue to come to work to perform non-writing duties under your contract during a WGA Strike unless and until those services are formally suspended or terminated,” HBO/HBO Max said in a letter sent to showrunners this week. 

For more, check out Hollywood Reporter. 

Game of Thrones Creator Refuses to “Bend the Knee”

One HBO showrunner refusing to “bend the knee” to the big studios is “Game of Thrones” Creator George R.R. Martin. 

Martin has ordered all production halted on the Game of Thrones spinoff “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Knight.” Despite much of the production of his show being done overseas in areas not covered by the Writers’ Guild contract, Martin says as a long-time, faithful union member that, he cannot work for the studios during the strikes. 

“I am not in L.A., so I cannot walk a picket line as I did in 1988, but I want to go on the record with my full and complete and unequivocal support of my Guild,” Martin wrote in a lengthy blog post.

“I have been through several of these since I first started writing for television and film in 1986. The 1988 strike, the first I was a part of, lasted 22 weeks, the longest in Hollywood history,” wrote Martin. “The 2007-2008 strike, the most recent, went for 100 days. This one may go longer. The issues are more important, and I have never seen the Guild so united as it is now.”

For more, check out George R.R. Martin’s blog. 

Snoop Dogg Throws Down at Milken Institute 

This week, Snoop Dogg also threw down and called out the studios in a talk at the right-wing Milken Institute last week. 

“I know I’m going off of script right now, but fuck it. This is business. This is business. This is a room full of businesspeople, and somebody may hear this and be able to do something about it so that the next artist don’t have to struggle or cry or figure out how to get to his money,” said Snoop Dogg. “Because some of these artists are streaming millions and millions and millions of fuckin’ streams, and they don’t got no millions of dollars in they pockets.” 

For more, check out Stereogum. 

Vanity Fair Profiles a Couple that Meet on Picket Line in 2007 Writers’ Guild Strike 

Finally, the Writers’ Guild has a touching look at a couple that met on the picket line during the 2007 Writers’ Guild strike: 

It’s the perfect premise for a rom-com. Two T.V. writers looking for love find it in the most unlikely place: on a picket line, striking with their union. That’s exactly what happened to Stacy Traub and Hunter Covington during the 2007 writers’ strike, but no studio executives have been interested in bringing that scenario to the screen. “Anytime I write something slightly close, they never want my character to be a T.V. writer,” Traub says with a sigh. “People feel like it’s not relatable. But for me, it’s relatable!” 

Less than a week into the 2023 writers’ strike, they’ve invited friends and colleagues to celebrate their 10th anniversary on the exact spot where they met and later got engaged. A number of people gather on a windy corner in front of Fox Studio’s Galaxy Gate, holding up their picket signs to make a tunnel for the couple to run through. Traub wears a white sash with the word “BRIDE,” ironically slung across her fuschia blazer. Covington sports a bushy beard, tattoos, and a T-shirt that says, “If my wife can settle, then so can the AMPTP”—referring to the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the organization that represents the industry’s studios. 

The two originally met in the fall of 2007 at a singles-themed picket that Covington organized. He was writing for My Name Is Earl at the time, and egged on by a few fellow singletons, he decided to look for a silver lining in a potentially grueling strike. This was an era before modern-day dating apps; he points out; it was worth a try. His Earl colleague Danielle Sanchez-Witzel brought her friend Traub, who was then the showrunner of a show called Notes From the Underbelly. The mother of an infant and a toddler, Traub, had recently gone through a divorce. “Being in a writers room is such a safe space, and if your life is gonna fall apart, it’s kind of a great place for it to happen—you know, I had people around me making me laugh,” she recalls. When the strike hit, she looked to the picket lines for a sense of community. 

The singles picket was low-pressure. “I thought there’s a chance that this [fix-up] could work,” says Sanchez-Witzel. “It would be so, so casual, because we’re always walking in a circle. So we could walk by and say hello, and kind of loop back around.” Afterward, they went out together for a meal that cemented their interest. “That was the start of a beautiful union within our beautiful union.”

For more, check out Vanity Fair

News & Links Elsewhere 

Alright, yinz, that’s all for today’s special edition newsletter on the Writers’ Guild strikes. 

Donate to help me pay off the laptop & avoid predatory loan rates. Please, if you can, sign up as one of our 749 recurring donors today.

Keep sending party invites, recipes, baseball insights, and complaints to [email protected]

See yinz later, 


About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. In addition to filing nearly 2,000 stories from 46 states, Elk traveled with Lula from Sáo Bernando do Campos all the way to the Oval Office in the White House. Credited by the Washington Post for being the first reporter to track the strike wave systematically, Elk started Payday Report using his NLRB settlement from being illegally fired for union organizing in 2015. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and works frequently in Rio de Janeiro, where he attended college at PUC-Rio. He speaks both Portuguese and Pittsburghese fluently. His email is [email protected]

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