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Latest On WGA Strike: More Shows Shut Down Production

A diverse group of picketers are assembled outside a building, many carrying signs that read "Writers Guild of America On Strike!" Above them on the outside wall of the building is a billboard with the Warner Brothers "WB" shield in blue and gold overlapping the number 100, with the words "Celebrating every story" inside the number.
Writers Guild of America members and supporters picket in front of Warner Bros. Studio on the first day of the writers strike on May 2, 2023 in Burbank, California.
(Brian Feinzimer
for LAist)
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It's Day 4 of the Writers Guild of America strike. Pickets are continuing outside movie studios and streamer HQ's across the city, and the strike’s toll is accelerating.

As an act of screenwriter solidarity, Drew Barrymore said she would not host the MTV Movie and TV Awards ceremony due to happen Sunday live from Santa Monica. While the ceremony will proceed without a host, MTV canceled its pre-show red carpet coverage.

That comes at the end of a busy few days of work stoppages. On Monday, writers on the new season 3 of Showtime's Yellowjackets, downed laptops after just one day.

On Tuesday, the writers of ABC’s hit sitcom Abbott Elementary were due to begin their third season. They didn’t. The same day, Cobra Kai showrunner Jon Hurwitz said all writing on his Netflix series had ceased.

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Several shows that were already filming stopped production, including Netflix’s Unstable and NBC’s Night Court. 

Expect to see more shows join late night talk shows and halt production over the next few weeks as the strike continues.

Latest from AMPTP

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers statement on Thursday covered these issues:

  • "Gig economy" for writers: It says screenwriting has almost nothing in common with standard “gig" jobs. Writers often have a guarantee of specific weeks or episodes, and writing jobs come with benefits such as employer-paid health care and pension plan contributions.
  • Mandatory staffing and duration of employment: The AMPTP sees this essentially as a hiring quota that's "incompatible with the creative nature of our industry," and says it's a one-size-fits-all solution to shows that are each unique.
  • Overall numbers: The AMTP disputes the WGA's claim that it's only offering $41 million a year in minimum wage increases. It says it's nearer $97 million per year, which doesn't take into account other wage and residual increases it's offered.
  • Wage increases: It's offering the highest first-year general wage increase in more than 25 years, while also offering to create "an entirely new category of rates that will establish a new and higher floor for mid-level writers’ compensation."
  • Streaming residuals: A 46% increase in residuals took effect in 2020, and many writers have yet to see these in their paychecks. For a one-hour episode of a Netflix or Amazon Prime series, a writer receives $72,000 in residuals over three years, growing to $114,000 over seven years.
  • Artificial intelligence: "AI raises hard, important creative and legal questions for everyone. For example, writers want to be able to use this technology as part of their creative process, without changing how credits are determined, which is complicated given AI material can't be copyrighted. So it's something that requires a lot more discussion, which we've committed to doing."

What the WGA has said

In a statement released Monday night, the WGA said:

"Over the course of the negotiation, we explained how the companies' business practices have slashed our compensation and residuals and undermined our working conditions. Our chief negotiator, as well as writers on the committee, made clear to the studios’ labor representatives that we are determined to achieve a new contract with fair pay that reflects the value of our contribution to company success and includes protections to ensure that writing survives as a sustainable profession."

What else you should know

  • It is the first WGA strike in 15 years; the last work stoppage began in November 2007 and lasted 100 days.
  • Late night television shows have already gone off the air, and there won't be a Pete Davidson-hosted edition of Saturday Night Live this weekend.
  • As of Friday no new talks were scheduled.

Why it matters

The WGA says that most of its nearly 12,000 members are making less than they once did, and that after factoring for inflation, average WGA pay has actually dropped 14% over the last five years.

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The union says about half of WGA members are earning scale — the bare minimum wages stipulated by the contract with the AMPTP. Ten years ago, it was only a third.

Executives at studios and streamers maintain that they are still recovering from pandemic losses and have spent billions of dollars creating and buying content for new streaming platforms, some of which are far from profitable.

Other Hollywood unions will likely use any WGA gains as the template for their demands; contracts for the Screen Actors Guild and the Directors Guild of America both expire at the end of June.

How we're reporting on this

John Horn, who covers arts and entertainment, has been following negotiations closely. Josie Huang talked this week to picketers and local businesses affected by the strike. In addition, our AirTalk team has featured the strike in on-air discussions on LAist 89.3 and LAist coverage.

This is a developing story. We fact check everything and rely only on information from credible sources (think officials involved in negotiations and reporters on the ground). Sometimes, however, we make mistakes and/or initial reports turn out to be wrong. In all cases, we strive to bring you the most accurate information in real time and will update this story as new information becomes available.

What questions we're asking

  • What are the main sticking points in the negotiations?
  • How do the contracts of other Hollywood unions — some of which have no-strike clauses — affect this strike?
  • What's next for your favorite shows.

Learn more

Your questions or ideas

What questions do you have about film, TV, music, or arts and entertainment?
John Horn, entertainment reporter and host of our weekly podcast Retake, explores whether the stories that Hollywood tells about itself really reflect what's going on?

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