Writers’ strike looks like a long fight, as Hollywood prepares

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Hollywood writers picketing to preserve pay and job security outside major studios and streamers braced for a long fight at the start of a strike that immediately forced late night shows to shut down, put other productions on hiatus and had the whole industry slow its pace.

The first Hollywood strike in 15 years began Tuesday as all 11,500 members of the Writers Guild of America went off the job when their contracts expired.

The union is asking for a higher minimum wage, more writers per show and less exclusivity on one-off projects, among other demands — all conditions it says have been reduced in the streaming-age content boom .

“Everything changed, but the money changed in the wrong direction,” said Kelly Galuska, 39, writer for “The Bear.” on FX and “Big Mouth” on Netflix, who picketed Fox Studios in Los Angeles with her 3-week-old daughter. “It’s a turning point in the industry right now. And if we don’t get back to equality, we never will.

Hollywood’s last strike, by the same union in 2007 and 2008, took three months to resolve. With no talks or even plans for talks underway between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents studios and production companies, it’s unclear how long writers will have to go without. salary, or how many major productions will be delayed, shortened or removed.

“We’ll be out as long as it takes,” Josh Gad, a writer for shows like “Central Park” and an actor in films including “Frozen,” said from the Fox picket line.

AMPTP said in a statement that it was presenting an offer with “generous increases in writers’ compensation as well as improvements to streaming residuals” and was ready to improve its offer “but was not willing to do so. due to the magnitude of other proposals still on the table that the guild continues to insist on.

The authors were well aware that a shutdown was likely. Still, the breakdown of contract talks hours before a deadline that previous years’ negotiations have eluded for hours or even days, and the sudden reality of a strike, has left some surprised, some worried, some determined.

“When I saw the refusals to counter and the refusal even to negotiate from the AMPTP, I was like on fire to come here and stand up for what we deserve,” Jonterri Gadson, a writer whose credits include “A Black Lady Sketch Show,” said on a picket line at Amazon Studios as she held a sign that read, “I hate it here.

All the best late-night shows, which are hosted by writers who write monologues and jokes for their hosts, went dark immediately. NBC’s “The Tonight Show,” Comedy Central’s “Daily Show,” ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live, CBS’s “The Late Show,” and NBC’s “Late Night” all have reruns scheduled throughout the week.

NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” which was scheduled to air a new episode on Saturday, will also shut down and air a rerun, and the remaining two episodes of the season are in jeopardy.

The strike’s impact on series and scripted movies will likely take longer to be noticed — though some shows, including Showtime’s “Yellowjackets,” have already suspended production on future seasons.

If a strike persists through the summer, fall TV schedules could be changed. In the meantime, those whose scripts have been completed are allowed to continue filming.

Union members also picketed New York, where lesser-known writers were joined by more prominent peers like playwright and screenwriter Tony Kushner (“The Fabelmans”) and “Dopesick” creator Danny Strong.

Some actors, including Rob Lowe, joined the picket lines in support of Los Angeles. Many notable writers, like Gad, are hybrids who combine writing with other roles.

Speaking about his acting side, Gad said of his fellow writers, “We are nothing without their words. We have nothing without them. And so it’s imperative that we resolve this in a way that benefits the glow that comes out of each of these people.

The other side of his hyphenated role could soon find itself in the same space, with many of the same issues at the center of negotiations for actors union SAG-AFTRA and the Directors Guild of America. The contracts for both expire in June.

Streaming has exploded the number of shows and movies made each year, which means more jobs for writers. But the writers say they have been forced to earn less under changing and precarious conditions that the WGA has called “a gig economy within a union workforce”.

The syndicate is asking for more compensation for writers up front, as many payments that writers have historically enjoyed in the back end — like syndication and international licensing — have been largely cut by the start of streaming.

Galuska said she was among the writers who never saw these kinds of once-common benefits.

“I’ve had the opportunity to write about great shows that are very, very popular and unfortunately I haven’t really seen the compensation for them,” she said.

The AMPTP said sticking points in a deal revolve around so-called mini-rooms – the guild is looking for a minimum number of scribes per writer room – and the length of employment contracts.

The writers are also seeking more regulation around the use of artificial intelligence, which the WGA writers say could give producers a shortcut to finishing their work.

“The fact that the companies have refused to deal with us on this fact means that I am even more afraid today than a week ago. They obviously have a plan. The things they say no to are the things they plan to do tomorrow. ___

Jake Coyle and David Bauder in New York, and Krysta Fauria and Jonathan Landrum Jr. in Los Angeles, contributed.

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