100-day strike: Hollywood writers frustrated as talks falter

LOS ANGELES, Aug 9 (Reuters) – The Hollywood writers’ strike marked 100 days on Wednesday, with contract talks stalled and people on strike in what they described as indifference to their demands.

The strike began on May 2 after negotiations between the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and major studios reached an impasse over compensation, minimum staffing in writers’ rooms and remaining payments in the streaming era.

Writers have sought to regulate the use of artificial intelligence, which they fear will replace their creative input.

Entertainment industry executives are trying to navigate the cross-currents of declining television revenues, movie box offices that have yet to return to pre-Covid levels and streaming businesses that are struggling to turn a profit.

“We’re in some uncharted waters,” Warner Bros. Discovery ( WBD.O ) Chief Executive David Zaslau told investors last week, as the company warned that uncertainty over labor unrest in Hollywood could affect the timing of the company’s movie slate and its potential. Content creation and delivery.

Actors represented by the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) went on strike on July 14 over pay and artificial intelligence, effectively halting production of scripted television shows and movies and affecting businesses across the orbit of the entertainment world. This is the first time since 1960 that the two unions have gone on strike.

At a meeting last week to discuss resuming negotiations between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the group representing the major studios in negotiations had no firm date for returning to the bargaining table.

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The WGA sent a message to its 11,500 members later that day, complaining that details from the secret session had been leaked, but insisting the guild’s negotiating team was “ready to engage with the companies and resume negotiations in good faith”.

The WGA did not respond to requests for comment for this story, and AMPTP declined comment.

Go on a picket line this week, an angry solution.

“We’re in it until we get the contract we need and deserve, but we can’t be discouraged by the attitude we’re getting from AMPTP,” said Dan Prestwich, whose credits include the TV drama “Chicago Hope.” .” “Indifference, and in some ways, it’s a form of outright cruelty.”

Prestwich said that studio executives should be creative partners with writers, as they have been in the past.

“This business is changing now,” he said. “It doesn’t feel like a human business anymore.”

The three-month strike occasionally took on the rhetoric of class warfare, with writers attacking media executives’ compensation.

Walt Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger has been criticized for calling union demands “unrealistic” after a contract extension that offered him an annual incentive bonus of five times his base salary.

“What upsets me is that we don’t think we’re going to win,” said television writer and WGA member Jamie Perry. “What upsets me is the greed and the cruelty of what these companies are doing and the complete wrongness of what they’re doing. It just feels so bad.”

Like past writers’ strikes, this job action takes advantage of Hollywood’s new forms of distribution — and writers seeking to share in the new revenue.

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The first strike, in 1960, revolved around writers and actors demanding residual payments for showing old movies on television. After two decades, writers walked off the job in 1985 to demand a share of the revenue from the growing home video market.

A 100-day strike in 2007-08 focused in part on expanding Guild protection to “new media,” including movies and TV downloads and content offered through ad-supported Internet services.

At the moment, a central issue is residual fees for streaming services, although calls for restrictions on emerging AI technology have also gained prominence. Reuters reports that Disney has created a task force to address artificial intelligence and its importance to the entertainment group.

“When technologies create new revenue streams, workers want a share of those revenues. Period,” Steven J. Rose, professor of history at the University of Southern California. “When it comes to artificial intelligence, it’s an existential crisis. They have the potential to lose their jobs forever.”

Reporting by Dan Chmielewski and Daniel Broadway in Los Angeles Editing by Mary Milligan and Sandra Maler

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Danielle covers Broadway movie premieres, celebrity news, Hollywood legal proceedings, theater, magazine ads, company stories and more at Thomson Reuters. She holds a BA and MA in English Literature from Cal State Long Beach and previously worked at the Los Angeles Times and freelanced for Teen Vogue, USA Today, Black Girl Nerds and other outlets. Daniel won an LA Press Club Award for his Los Angeles Times cover story about South Los Angeles representation on the show “Insecure” and was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for his work on the “Subcultured” episode of the PBS series about gay rodeo. He is a member of the Critics Choice Association, Hollywood Critics Association and GALECA.

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