Hollywood screenwriters are on strike after contract negotiations broke down

Hollywood writers close their laptops and go on strike.

Thousands of union writers who say they’re not being paid fairly in the streaming era The strike went on after midnight on Tuesday, halting television production. That comes later High-profile talks between a top guild and trade association representing Hollywood’s marquee studios have failed to avert the first walkout in more than 15 years.

The board of directors of the Writers Guild of America, which includes the Western and Eastern branches, voted unanimously to call for a walkout and said writers were facing an “existential crisis.”

“The companies’ behavior has created a gig economy within a unionized workforce, and their unwavering stance in these negotiations betrays their determination to further devalue the writing profession,” the union said in a statement.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers — a trade association that negotiates on behalf of studios, television networks and streaming platforms — said in a statement that its offer included a “generous increase in compensation for writers.”

Striking writers picket outside Paramount Studios in Los Angeles on December 13, 2007. Nick Ut / AP file

According to the entertainment giant, major “sticking points” include union proposals that would require companies to produce TV shows with a certain number of writers for a certain period of time, “whether they want it or not.”

The strike brought the production of broadcast shows, streaming shows and some movies to a virtual standstill, upending the entertainment industry.

In some cases, the impact is immediately visible. Late-night talk shows are expected to be dark this week, for example, with NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” likely to sit out this weekend’s episode. In other cases, producers of scripted drama and comedy series may be forced to shorten their seasons or delay filming altogether.

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The strike comes amid severe economic and technological upheaval in Hollywood, which is grappling with the growing dominance of streaming services, the decline of traditional broadcast audiences and the rise of artificial intelligence, which has fueled concerns about the future of the creative industries.

Stocks and Claims

Members of the WGA Demanding a pay rise And they say structural changes in the business model have made it harder to make a living. In recent years, amid the explosion of streaming platforms like Netflix and Disney+, average writer-producer pay has fallen 4%, or 23% adjusted for inflation. According to WGA statistics.

“Companies have used the shift to streaming to drive down writer pay and separate writing from production, worsening working conditions for serial writers at all levels,” the WGA said. March 14 Bulletin Titled “Writers Don’t Continue”.

The guild added that more writers are “working at the minimum regardless of experience.” In contrast, salaries for top entertainment executives have ballooned in recent years.

In a video message Released on April 11, comedy writer and producer Danielle Sanchez-Witzel (“The Carmichael Show”), a member of the WGA’s negotiating team, said, “This is not a normal negotiation cycle,” adding, “We are fighting for writers’ economic survival and the stability of our profession.

Writers at Union have found it difficult to maintain a steady income, especially since streaming period shows run for fewer episodes than their broadcast counterparts. Additionally, residual fees — money paid when a show is placed in syndication or aired overseas — have all but disappeared as more content is hosted exclusively on streaming platforms.

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In an interview with “NBC Nightly News,” Raphael Bob-Waksberg, creator of Netflix’s animated series “BoJack Horseman,” explained the writers’ demands in stark terms.

“We need more money,” Bob-Waksberg said. “We want enough money to make a basic living doing what we love.”

“The only people who can try to start a career in television or movies are already going to be independently wealthy, and I think we’re going to get to a point where I don’t think that’s good for television or movies. I don’t think we want that,” he said.

The alliance represents major film studios such as Disney, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. top broadcast television networks such as ABC, CBS and NBC; and leading streaming services including Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon. (Universal Pictures is a unit of NBC News’ parent company, NBCUniversal.)

“AMPTP member companies are united to reach an agreement that is mutually beneficial to the health and longevity of writers and the industry, and to avoid hardship for the thousands of employees who depend on the industry for their livelihoods,” the organization said. said in a statement on Monday night. “AMPTP stands ready to engage in discussions with the WGA in an effort to break this logjam.”

WGA members last went on strike in November 2007 amid a stalemate with the AMPTP over writers’ salaries and other issues. The strike shut down Hollywood’s content production pipeline and lasted 100 days, ending on February 12, 2008.

The union is now facing problems it couldn’t fathom during the last strike, with Netflix best known for shipping DVDs in red envelopes and traditional network television channels still generating massive ratings.

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In a sign of the times, the WGA’s demands for this negotiation cycle include provisions for “the use of material produced using artificial intelligence or similar technologies.”

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