Did your favorite television show end its last season on a cliffhanger? If you want to know what happens next, you’d better hope the script is already in the hands of the studios. Hollywood might be facing a major crisis. The Writers Guild of America is planning to go on strike as its current contract with studios ends in two weeks. The writers’ unions which represents thousands of writers for television and movies, announced that their members overwhelmingly support a strike or walkout when their contract expires on May 1.
The New York Times writes, The unions, which are affiliated East and West coast branches of the Writers Guild of America, said more than 9,000 writers had approved a strike authorization, with 98 percent of the vote.
W.G.A. leaders have said this is an “existential” moment for writers, contending that compensation has stagnated over the last decade despite the explosion of television series in the streaming era. In an email last week to writers, the lead negotiators said that “the survival of writing as a profession is at stake in this negotiation.”
With two weeks to go before the contract expires, there has been little sign of progress in the talks. In the email, the negotiating committee said the studios “have failed to offer meaningful responses on the core economic issues” and offered only small concessions in a few areas.
“In short, the studios have shown no sign that they intend to address the problems our members are determined to fix in this negotiation,” the email said.
While scripted shows may be put on hold, if you like reality television, you might be getting a lot more of it
“A potential writers strike would be incredibly harmful for many in Hollywood, but there’s one sector of the entertainment industry that is quietly optimistic that it could lead to a boom for them: the unscripted television makers,” according to Deadline.
“As history has shown, there’s also precedent for an uptick — from the 1988 strike that led to the creation of Fox’s Cops and the 2007-08 strike, which bolstered unscripted shows such as The Amazing Race and Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
‘Given past history, it would [help the unscripted TV sector], but I don’t think it helps the industry at all,’ she said. ‘When you think about how many people would be out of work, if all those scripted shows stopped, none of us want that. I certainly hope that it doesn’t happen. But would we be able to keep moving forward? We would but I just think it would be so rough on all of us that there would be big repercussions later.’
The linear broadcast networks, cable networks and streamers are starting to prepare for a strike and are bulking up unscripted development in case the scribes do put down their tools.”
Money, of course, is at the heart of the matter. USA Today explained that the “writers are primarily looking for more compensation, with many pointing to the rise of streaming as having a negative effect on their earnings. In TV, writers are often paid per episode, and where a broadcast series once produced 22 or more installments each season, streaming series are more typically eight to 13 episodes.
In their pattern of demands, the guild also asked studios to standardize compensation for screenwriting – regardless of whether a film is released theatrically or on streaming – and increase studio contributions to the pension plan and health fund.”
For their part, the studios “are approaching the negotiations with “the long-term health and stability of the industry as our priority,” AMPTP said in a statement shortly before the talks began, and it’s been a shaky time in the industry. Entertainment conglomerates and streaming services are looking to bolster their bottom line, ratcheting back a spending spree on new content that has hurt profits,” the newspaper continued.