LOS ANGELES (AP) — The union representing 11,500 writers in film, television and other forms of entertainment is now on strike.. It was the first writers’ strike — and the first Hollywood strike of any kind in 15 years. Check out the storylines where the fight took place.
Why do writers strike?
Streaming and its ripple effects are at the center of controversy. Guild says that even as series budgets increase, writers’ share of that money continues to shrink.
Guild says that streaming services’ use of small staffs — known in the industry as “mini rooms” — has made it difficult to generate steady income for short periods of time. Over the past decade the number of writers working at the guild minimum has fallen from a third to half. The Guild says there is no minimum protection for writers of comedy-variety shows for streaming.
“Among the television staff, most writers work minimally, often for fewer weeks, regardless of experience,” The The guild said in a March statement.
The lack of a regular seasonal calendar in streaming has further depressed wages, the report said. Scheduled annual wage caps under the current contract are limited by increases in inflation.
The weekly minimum wage for a staff writer on a television series for the 2019-2020 season is $4,546, according to the industry trade station. Variety. They work an average of 29 weeks per year on a network show for $131,834 or an average of 20 weeks on a streaming show for $90,920. The figure for a writer-producer is $6,967 per week.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents Hollywood’s studios, streamers and production companies, says their priority is the “long-term health and stability of the industry” and that they are committed to reaching a “fair and just deal.”
How did we get here?
Months of negotiations over writers’ pay, primarily for streaming shows, still leave considerable distance between AMPTP and writers. The Writers Guild of America – its Eastern and Western editions – are technically the two unions acting as one unit in these negotiations.
The current contract expires on Monday. Writers at the time voted overwhelmingly to call their leaders on strikeIt had already started Making signs for picket lines.
AMPTP said Monday night that it had offered “generous increases in writer compensation and improvements to streaming content” and was improving its offering, but could not due to writers’ demands.
What programs will be affected first?
Late-night talk shows, which rely heavily on one-day, current affairs comedy writing, will be the first to feel the effects of the strike. During previous writers’ strikes the shows were practically front-runners. Shows like NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel” Long live!” New episodes are scheduled to air this week. They haven’t announced their plans yet, but may now switch to running again. James Corden’s Thursday Night Farewell His “Late Late Show” was a good time.
“Saturday Night Live” has a somewhat longer production timeline, but depends on its writers. A strike will lift the last three episodes of this season, starting with Saturday’s show host Pete Davidson.
The status of daytime talk shows, which lean more heavily on host chats and interviews, is less certain. ABC’s “The View” was uninterrupted during its last strike, which began in late 2007 and ended in early 2008.
How will strike script affect serials and movies?
In scripted series the impact of the strike will take longer to manifest. Even daily soap operas finish scripts months in advance. Significant effects on the film release calendar may take even longer.
Production of finished screenplays can proceed as planned (without the benefit of last-minute rewrites). The guild’s own contract with AMPTP expires on June 30, with crews — whose union recently came closest to striking — and actors — willing to work across picket lines.
The products, long aware of the impending deadline, tried to finish before it arrived. FilmLA, which issues location permits for the Los Angeles area, says there have been no requests for TV dramas or sitcoms this week.
Many viewers and moviegoers may not notice the effects of a strike long after it ends. The menus on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video won’t be any different next week, but since this will be the first writers’ strike of the streaming era, there’s no template for what they’ll look like for months.
During the last strike, when broadcast and cable networks with well-established seasonal schedules were still predominant, many shows including “30 Rock,” “CSI” and “Grey’s Anatomy” shortened their seasons.
Unscripted reality television took off at the time. Both “Big Brother” and “The Amazing Race” increased their output. “The Apprentice,” hosted by Donald Trump, got new life when a popular version of the reserved show was created to help fill the scripted void.
What is happening to writers now?
Ending work can mean a huge financial loss for screenwriters, though many say it’s worth fighting the dwindling income.
Guild strike rules prevent members from entering into new contracts, creating new pitches, or changing new scripts. They are allowed to pay for any writing already written.
Also known as “hyphenates” in the industry, including head writer-producers, actor-writers and showrunners such as Quinta Brunson. Abbott Elementary, which does all of the above, is allowed under union rules to do non-writing parts of their jobs, although that work may be less because they seek solidarity with writing employees. (At the Met Gala on Monday, Bruson said: “I’m a member of the WGA and I support the WGA and … we, we, get what we need. … Nobody wants a strike, but I hope we can. To fix this, whatever that means. ok”
What happened during previous writers’ strikes?
Writers have gone on strike six times, more than any other group in Hollywood.
The first time was in 1960, when the Writers Guild walkout lasted for almost five months. Strikes followed in 1973, 1981 and 1985. The longest strike, lasting exactly five months, came in 1988.
The 2007–2008 strike was resolved after three months. Among the major concessions won by writers is that new streaming shows must hire guild writers if their budgets are large enough. It was an early precursor to nearly every entertainment labor strike in the years that followed.