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Hollywood Labor Dispute Nears End as Writers Guild Reaches Tentative Deal



Hollywood’s protracted labor conflict has taken a significant step towards resolution. The Writers Guild of America, representing over 11,000 screenwriters, said the 146-day strike might end with the announcement of a tentative agreement on Sunday, Sept. 24.

The forthcoming days will see guild members vote on whether to accept the deal, which aligns with their demands. The demands include higher pay for streaming content, agreements from studios on minimum staffing for TV shows, and protections against AI technology affecting writers’ credits and pay.

According to the New York Times, the Writers Guild’s negotiating committee emailed members, expressing their pride in the deal. They emphasized the meaningful gains and protections for all members.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, representing studios, consistently refrained from celebrating prematurely, offering a concise statement: “The W.G.A. and A.M.P.T.P. have reached a tentative agreement.”

Many in the entertainment industry, profoundly impacted by the streaming revolution catalyzed by the pandemic, view this tentative accord as a crucial stride toward stabilization. However, a substantial portion of Hollywood remains at a standstill, with tens of thousands of actors continuing their strike and no talks scheduled between the actors’ union, SAG-AFTRA, and the studios.

Only productions devoid of actors, such as late-night shows hosted by Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert and daytime talk shows hosted by Drew Barrymore and Jennifer Hudson, stand poised for a swift restart.

In addition to actors, over 100,000 behind-the-scenes professionals in Los Angeles and New York face continued idleness, grappling with escalating financial strain. According to Governor Gavin Newsom, the Hollywood shutdown has cost California’s economy more than $5 billion.

SAG-AFTRA has been on strike since July 14, with demands surpassing the Writers Guild’s. The studio alliance prioritized talks with the Writers Guild because of SAG-AFTRA’s leader, Fran Drescher, who pushed for 2% of streaming show revenue. Studios considered this point non-negotiable.

However, given shared concerns, the agreement with the Writers Guild could expedite negotiations with the actors’ union. Actors, like writers, harbor apprehensions over the potential use of A.I. to create digital likenesses or alter performances without consent or compensation.

Reportedly, artificial intelligence became the crucial factor during the last stage of negotiations. Entertainment company lawyers finalized language that addressed the guild’s concerns about artificial intelligence and ownership of old scripts. Senior company leaders, including Robert A. Iger, Donna Langley, Ted Sarandos, and David Zaslav, directly joined the talks.

Hollywood workers have tapped into over $45 million in hardship withdrawals from the Motion Picture Industry Pension Plan as the strike persists. Warner Bros. Discovery anticipates a $300 million to $500 million reduction in adjusted earnings for the year due to the dual strikes.

The agreement gives hope to Hollywood’s recovery, which could prevent billions in losses and financial hardships for workers.

The Reporter Newspaper
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