Thread Writers' Strike

Writers Guild and studios continue talks, but deal remains elusive as possible strike looms

A protester walks the picket line outside Paramount Studios
During a previous walkout, striking writers picket outside Paramount Studios in Los Angeles.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

As talks between writers and the major studios come down to the wire, a deal to negotiate a new contract that would avoid Hollywood’s first strike in 15 years remains elusive, according to three people with knowledge of the talks.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers this week made counterproposals to the Writers Guild of America, which began negotiations March 20. The union is seeking nearly $600 million in wage increases and other demands.

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The two sides have convened at the offices of the AMPTP at Sherman Oaks Galleria this week and are expected to continue negotiations through the weekend down to the final hours before the contract lapses midnight Monday, the people said.


While there has been some progress in the talks, the sides remain far from reaching an agreement on a new contract, according to three people with knowledge of the negotiations who were not authorized to comment.

WGA members have already voted by a record margin to authorize their leaders to call a strike as early as Tuesday 12:01 a.m. if no deal is reached with the studios.

Although it’s possible the union could allow members to continue to work under the old contract even after it expires, such an outcome appears unlikely. The WGA has already told its 11,500 members that “rumors” of an extension to allow more time for talks were unfounded.

The Writers Guild of America is adding pressure on Hollywood studios, highlighting how their shows and streaming platforms will be affected by a strike if it happens on May 2.

April 20, 2023

The high-stakes bargaining is being closely watched by entertainment industry companies and workers. Writers have said they believe their profession faces an existential crisis as streaming has upended the economics of Hollywood. Meanwhile, studios are under pressure from Wall Street to shore up their balance sheets and improve the profitability of their streaming platforms.

The WGA and AMPTP had no immediate comment.

If the union goes on strike, scores of TV and film productions nationwide will be forced to halt production and late-night talk shows would go off air.

“Late Night” host Seth Meyers on Friday addressed the likelihood he wouldn’t be on air next week in his web-based bonus segment called “Corrections.”


Meyers recalled the last strike in 2007-2008 and how it affected more workers than just the writers on “Saturday Night Live,” which he was a part of at the time.

“It would really be a miserable thing for people to go through, especially considering we are on the heels of that awful pandemic,” said Meyers, a WGA member, adding he was hopeful for a deal. “What the writers are asking for is not unreasonable. If you don’t see me here next week, know that is something that is not done lightly.”

In a sign of the potential fallout, no permits have been requested by producers for scripted shows to shoot in Los Angeles next week, said Philip Sokoloski, spokesman for FilmLA, the nonprofit group that handles film permits for the region.

Media industry cutbacks and layoffs at studios, coupled with fears of an impending strike, slowed local production for a third consecutive quarter, the group said earlier this month. On-location film production in Greater Los Angeles fell 24% to 7,476 shoot days from the same period last year.

A production halt this summer could jeopardize broadcast networks’ fall lineups. Streaming companies are also under pressure to keep audiences subscribed, although several studios have announced cutbacks in production and layoffs. Walt Disney Co. alone is in the midst of shedding 7,000 jobs.

The strike would be the first in 15 years and history suggests it could be protracted. The longest WGA strike was in 1988 and lasted 153 days. The last WGA strike, in 2007-08, spanned 100 days.

The union has already started making plans for another strike, constructing thousands of signs and surveying members to find out where they would be available to stage pickets, said one source close to the union.


TV writer David Slack was among several union members posting on Twitter about their strike preparations.

“While assembling picket signs at WGA headquarters, MEGAN screenwriter Akela Cooper found this old picket stick that I signed back during the ‘07 strike,” Slack tweeted with a photo of a stick he had signed on Dec. 5, 2007. “We marched and won then, and if we have to, we’ll march and win again.”

Layoffs, hints of a recession and an uncertain future for streaming add up to contentious negotiations as the WGA looks for a new deal with Hollywood studios.

April 10, 2023

The WGA has received vocal support from other entertainment industry unions, including the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Teamsters, the Directors Guild of America and the powerful performers union, SAG-AFTRA.

DGA is scheduled to start its negotiations May 10; and SAG-AFTRA begins talks June 7. Both unions’ contracts expire June 30.

The Writers Guild issued a package of demands to the AMPTP last month that included higher minimum pay levels, as well as increases in streaming residuals — royalties paid when a show is re-aired. The union is seeking standardized compensation, whether content is released in theaters or on streaming platforms.

Another goal: to extend protections that restrict the amount of time writers can spend working on a single episode of TV and curb the use of so-called mini rooms, in which small groups of writers are assembled to create episodes before the show is actually greenlit. The WGA maintains that many writers who work in such rooms, commonly used on streaming shows, are underpaid.


At the same time, however, studios are grappling with their own challenges, including heavy debt loads, a slowdown in the national economy, uncertainties in the streaming business and a long-term decline in theatrical ticket sales.

Hollywood has been on edge over rising expectations that the Writers Guild of America will stage its first strike since the 100-day walkout of 2007-08.

Sept. 24, 2023