In classic Hollywood fashion, the negotiations between the Writers Guild of America and the major studios are looking to be a suspenseful nail-biter.
Talks between the two sides appear to have stalled Monday evening as the midnight deadline approaches without any announcement about a deal.
Although the writers and the studios seemed to have made some progress over the weekend on several issues, including the guild's healthcare plan, writers had not responded to the studio's latest offer well past the noon Monday, according to sources familiar with the discussions who weren't authorized to talk to the media.
Local businesses that cater to film and television production were happily shelving austerity plans on Tuesday after the Writers Guild of America avoided a costly strike.
Businesses including prop houses, florists and transportation firms had been prepared to lay off employees, cut hours of operation or even temporarily close if the WGA couldn’t come to terms with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers by the Monday deadline.
But the two sides reached a tentative deal for a new film and TV contract for the union’s nearly 13,000 members early on Tuesday morning — a pact that includes gains in minimum pay and increases in contributions to the union’s health plan.
The entertainment industry went back to work as usual on Tuesday after the Writers Guild of America reached a tentative deal in the early morning hours for a new contract with the major Hollywood studios.
Although the deal still has to be ratified by guild members, the possibility of a strike now sits squarely in the past, much to the relief of those in Hollywood who feared the specter of a work stoppage that would have had widespread impact throughout the business.
The Writers Guild of America early Tuesday morning reached a deal with the major studios and networks for a new film and TV contract.
“It came right down to the wire,” said one person close to the talks who was not authorized to comment. “We didn't get everything we wanted and they didn't get everything they wanted, which is usually the result of a successful negotiation. We made real and substantial gains for writers in a number of areas.”
The Writers Guild of America and the major studios appeared Sunday to be moving closer toward a deal that would avert a strike, with the studios increasing their offers on several contentious issues, including the writers' health fund.
But no deal has been announced so far and a strike could still happen if both sides fail to reach an agreement by midnight Monday, when the writers’ current contract expires. A strike would affect nearly 13,000 film and TV writers and would cause widespread disruption in Hollywood.
Actors Laura Dern from "Big Little Lies," Justin Theroux from "The Leftovers," Regina King from "American Crime" and Milo Ventimiglia from "This Is Us" discuss the possible upcoming writers' strike during a Los Angeles Times Emmy Roundtable on April 28, 2017.
Justin Theroux was in the throes of production on the big-screen comedy “Tropic Thunder” during the lead-up to the writers’ strike of 2007-08.
“I remember doing a blistering three days — coming up to the [last] writers’ strike — trying to get these sort of [alternative] jokes and different changes in to submit them, so we could finish our shooting of the film,” said Theroux, who co-wrote the comedy that starred Ben Stiller and Robert Downey Jr.
“That being said,” he added, “strikes are devastating to an industry. You have to remember, crews who work on a week-to-week basis — or paycheck-to-paycheck, some people — it’s really devastating to them.”
When Hollywood writers went on strike in 1973, they were agitating for something new -- the creation of a health plan that would offer comprehensive coverage for its guild members.
Since then, the writers’ insurance plan has grown to become one of the most envied in Hollywood. Members don’t pay monthly premiums and have deductibles far below the national average. Writers have access to a wide network of care providers, including top-notch facilities in Los Angeles where patients are responsible only for co-pays.
As writers and studios work to avoid a strike ahead of Monday’s contract deadline, the guild’s employer-funded health plan has emerged as a major bone of contention.
With negotiations to avert a Hollywood writers' strike stretching into the final days, Mike Schur, one of TV’s funniest and most incisive writers, said an entertainment industry increasingly defined by streaming, shorter seasons and corporate profits have put mounting pressure on writers.
Schur, whose credits include “The Office,” “Parks and Recreation” and creator of NBC’s “The Good Place,” answered a few questions regarding a possible strike, the Internet and the writing life in Hollywood.
Would you explain why you do or do not support a strike?
Don’t expect Buzz Lightyear, Elsa or Toothless the dragon to go on strike next week.
As Hollywood makes contingency plans for the possibility of another writers’ walkout, the major animation studios — including Walt Disney Animation, Pixar Animation and DreamWorks Animation — have little reason to sweat. Same goes for cartoon-heavy cable programmers such as Nickelodeon.
That’s because scribes for those studios are not subject to the Writers Guild of America contracts that govern other movies and television shows. Instead, most animated film and TV writing falls within the reach of the Animation Guild, which is part of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, which is not threatening to hit the picket lines. And some studios, such as Disney-owned Pixar, aren’t signatories to any union.
In less than a week, writers' rooms across Hollywood will go dark if the Writers Guild of America goes on strike.
For showrunners on some of TV's most talked-about series, the focus is on crafting stories while they can.
"We’re just keeping our heads down and working until they tell us we can’t," said Gloria Calderon Kellett, co-showrunner of Netflix's "One Day at a Time." Writers for the series recently started work on Season 2.