Thursday, July 25, 2024

How will writers’ strike affect TV shows? Here’s what you should know.


For the past 15 years, Aaron Rahn Thomas has kept the jersey in mint condition, at the top right-hand side of his drawer. I’ve moved with him twice, from the Los Angeles duplex where he was living as a junior writer for “Friday night lights,” to the two-story craftsman house where he lives now. He’s been kept in the same place through the birth of his two daughters and through the development of the CBS-created action drama,”SWAT— the red shirt he wore during the nearly 100-day Hollywood Writers’ Strike in 2007.

Thomas said the jersey is a testament to the career he’s built and a pledge to keep: “It’s a sign that you’ve stood the test of time and are willing to go again if need be.”

Thomas, who has spoken about the impact of the strike on his business, may be wearing that shirt as soon as next month.

How a Hollywood Writers’ Strike Can Derail a Great TV Show

Hollywood stands on the brink of a strike that could shut down the industry after members of the Film and Television Writers Guild overwhelmingly approved the strike earlier this week.

The Writers Guild of America announced Monday that nearly 98 percent of the WGA’s voting members, and more than 9,000 writers, have agreed to a potential walkout — which would be the first strike in 15 years — if the union cannot negotiate a deal with the movement’s alliance. Picture and television producers, representing Hollywood production companies.

The last time the union authorized a strike was in 2017, but the WGA and the studios managed to strike a deal at 11. The most recent agreement was settled in 2019. This year’s vote to authorize a strike was the highest in approval rate and turnout of any company in WGA history.

The studios and networks have less than two weeks to reach an agreement and avoid a work stoppage.

Hollywood writers say the issue at the heart of their demands is an existential one: In the era of peak television, is it still possible for writers to make a living?

The companies used the move to broadcast as an excuse to reduce the value of the book, WGA said, “the deteriorating working conditions for soap opera writers at all levels” while streaming services such as Netflix’s earnings. Syndicate Objectives The new contract includes raising the minimum wage for writers and ensuring compensation and residuals for writers whose projects only appear on streaming services are paid in line with those who work for theatres.

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Other union requests include regulating the use of artificial intelligence in Writing scripts and addressing pay issues for small rooms, as writers are required to work on a show in pre-production or before a series has been picked up.

“Our membership has spoken,” the WGA said in an announcement. “The book expressed our collective strength, solidarity, and demand for meaningful change in huge numbers.”

AMPTP expressed its commitment to reaching a “fair and reasonable agreement” in a statement: “An agreement can only be reached if the union commits to shifting its focus to serious bargaining by engaging in full discussions of the issues with the companies and seeking reasonable concessions.”

David Slack, writer and consulting producer of a drama seriesmagnum band a former WGA West board member, he said the vote was a necessary measure, prompting production companies to be more flexible in the negotiation process.

“The ability to withhold our work is the only tool we have to get the studios to pay us what’s fair,” he said. “Our products are the foundation for all of the billions of dollars in revenue these entertainment companies generate, and we need to make up for that.”

Slack was a writer for “Law and orderwhen he joined his fellow union members on strike in 2007. At the time, he nearly went bankrupt, but Slack said he would do it again to secure fair compensation.

“I still hope we don’t have to strike,” Slack said. “But writing should be a viable career… that allows you to start a family, buy a house, and build money for retirement. And that is something worth fighting for.”

The kind of progressive writers like Thomas and Slack have tested in their careers—from writers to producers to showrunners—is harder to achieve now than it was a decade ago. Thomas said although there were more writing jobs, they had greatly diminished in quality.

Brittany Nichols realized she was in for a hard and not so captivating act when she moved to Los Angeles at the age of 22. Nichols, and now a writer and producer on the popular ABC show “Abbott ElementaryHer first apartment is with four other people: a family of three sleeping on an air mattress in the living room and another roommate.

In those early days, her commute to work took two hours because she didn’t own a car and had to rely on Los Angeles’ public transit system. I worked various side jobs to earn enough money just to ride the bus – working as an extra and doing marketing consulting research. All the money she was able to scrape together went back to reinvesting in her writing career, she said, “because I knew it was the only way to get this job that would put me on stable ground.”

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And like many other young writers, Nichols saw it as a growing pain.

“I was like, ‘That’s just part of it. That’s what being a broke artist is all about,'” Nichols said.

“But increasingly, because of the way the studios are cutting their paychecks and making it impossible to build a career, there’s nothing left on the other side for writers,” she said. “It’s just that eternal struggle.” The career paths available to her at the time increasingly disappeared.

Nichols said it used to be that writing on a hit show could back you up that year, until the next season started. Before the prevalence of streaming, television seasons were longer—about 22 episodes—and there were fewer limited series choices than there are now. Not only are today’s shows shorter, but they also take longer to produce, which increases the length of time a writer must live on last season’s salary—and that is if his show gets renewed.

As many writing opportunities have essentially become standalone jobs, writers have also struggled to acquire the kind of skills and experience that would make them able to take on more lucrative roles as producers and showrunners. According to the latest WGA data, only half of its members earn more than The contracted minimum salary For their work – in 2013, two-thirds of writers did.

“This is not an industry built for people who don’t have money,” Nichols said.

How much of an impact the 2023 writer’s strike will have on this year’s crop of TV and movies depends largely on how long the strike lasts.

Viewers are unlikely to notice any impact on broadcast shows, many of which have already written and filmed their final episodes. The same goes for streaming shows, which have longer timespans than streaming series. But the extended hit could backfire when these shows get back on the air. The same goes for movies, especially those that will be released in the next couple of years. Nor is it clear whether union actors are willing to cross the picket line to film these projects.

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The impact of the 2007 writers’ strike was widely felt. famous TV shows such as30 rock“,” Friday Night Lights “,”The Big Bang Theory“,”instinct anatomy” And “Champions“Cut their seasons. Daytime soaps hired non-union writers. Late-night hosts improvised without the usual writing staff and grew beards in solidarity as the strike continued. Other shows, such as”24” And “footnote“Production was halted permanently, postponing its seasons. The impact of the hit also spilled over onto the big screen, taking its toll.”Transformers Revenge of the Fallen“,”X-Men Origins: Wolverine” And “terminator salvation“among other things. It is estimated that the work stoppage will last for 100 days.” Los Angeles cost $4.5 billion in today’s dollars.

But unlike the 2007 strike, when there were debates among writers about how live broadcasting would affect their livelihoods, there was more unity and less internal strife among writers this time around, say industry veterans.

“I’ve never seen so much clarity on the issues that need to be addressed, and so much agreement on the fact that it needs to be addressed now,” said Thomas.

As the contract deadline approaches, people across the industry are scrambling to complete projects, secure deals, and complete production.

“We’re all planning as if the strike is going to happen,” Elsa Rameau, managing partner of a Hollywood law firm, said. said Vanity Fair earlier this month. “Our point is, how do we continue to get things done if and when the strike happens?”

However, Nichols does not change any of her plans. The Abbott Elementary season finale airs tonight — one I wrote. She knows the cost of downtime: the loss of income and job security, the potential loss of momentum in your career, and the postponement or cancellation of projects. The Abbott Elementary writers are expected to begin work on Season 3 on May 1 — the same day his contract expires. She said the risk of losing a job during the strike was worth it to her and others.

“At some point, I’m going to quit the job to try to pursue something else or the show will end or get cancelled,” she said. “Then here’s another job I have to go for. And right now, the chances that this job will be a good one are incredibly low.”



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