Top studio executives join writers’ strike negotiations

Talks between the Hollywood Writers Guild and major entertainment companies resumed Wednesday after a month, with top executives joining the talks for the first time.

Both sides announced they would meet again on Thursday, ending the day when top executives were expected to return. A person familiar with the discussions said the results were encouraging.

In attendance were Ted Sarandos, co-chairman of Netflix; David Zaslau, chief executive of Warner Bros. Discovery; Donna Langley, Chief Content Officer, Universal Pictures; and Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chief executive, spoke on condition of anonymity because of the diplomatic nature of the talks, according to three people familiar with the meeting.

Last month, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which negotiates on behalf of entertainment companies, sweetened its offer for a new three-year contract and made public the details. The choice to make the offer public ranked only the Writers Guild of America, which represents more than 11,000 television and film writers, and was one of the reasons for the recent impasse. Mr. Jaslav and Mr. Top executives like Iger met with union officials last month, but not in a formal bargaining session.

The writers initially declined to respond to the studio’s latest offer, but reached out to the alliance last week to request a new meeting.

At 142 days, the strike was the longest writers’ walkout. (The longest was 153 days in 1988.) The union argues that the streaming era has worsened wages and working conditions for its members.

The studios have reported giving writers their highest pay raises in more than three decades, while also including protections against artificial intelligence.

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The damage done to the industry and surrounding businesses by the writers’ strike, which began on July 14 – along with Hollywood actors – is significant.

In an interview with CNN last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom said he believes the twin strikes have already cost California’s economy north of $5 billion.

Brooks Barnes And John Goblin Contributed report.

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