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Hollywood’s Writers Guild Is Going on Strike

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The Writers Guild of America has announced that its members will be going out on strike. It's the first example of industrial action from the guild in 15 years.

The WGA announced that the work stoppage will begin on the afternoon of Tuesday, May 2. According to a statement, the WGA said that it "began this process intent on making a fair deal, but the studios’ responses have been wholly insufficient given the existential crisis writers are facing."

According to the union, studios and streamers have refused to agree on a number of important issues, including a guaranteed number of weeks employment for TV writers and protections against AI-based writing in WGA-covered work. Proposals over minimizing work with no pay has also failed to be agreed upon.

The Board of Directors of the @WGAwest and the Council of the @WGAeast, acting upon the authority granted to them by their memberships, have voted unanimously to call a strike, effective 12:01 AM, Tuesday, May 2.

— Writers Guild of America West (@WGAWest) May 2, 2023

The current three-year contract between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents most of Hollywood's studios, expired yesterday at midnight Pacific time.

The negotiations went down to the wire, with the leaders of both negotiating bodies meeting over the weekend to try and come to an agreement. The WGA voted with an overwhelming majority to authorize a strike back in April.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers has released its own statement on the issue, and claims that it "presented a comprehensive packagae proposal […] which included generous increases in compensation". It says that the primary problems that have led to the strike action are "mandatory staffing" of writers rooms and "duration of employment" for writers.

“Negotiations between the AMPTP and the WGA concluded without an agreement today.” pic.twitter.com/51UtEbBLtl

— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) May 2, 2023

At the center of the issues between the writers and producers are proposed changes to accomodate the way the streaming model has changed the entertainment landscape. As residuals once kept many TV writers afloat, the WGA is looking for changes in the contract to allow for a more stable industry as those residuals dry up in favor of series that live on streaming platforms indefinitely.

Basically, as streaming has changed the film and television industry as we know it, the WGA is arguing that the AMPTP has not kept pace.

In addition to increases in minimum pay and a reworked formula for TV residuals, the WGA is also looking for better working conditions, including minimum television writing staff sizes. Right now, studios are pushing for "mini rooms", where just two or three writers aid a showrunner before a show has even been greenlit. The WGA proposes a minimum of six writers for pre-greenlit shows, as well as a minimum for post-greenlit shows, too.

The last time the WGA went on strike was in 2007-08 in a historic 100-day work stoppage that changed the entertainment industry forever. It brought many productions, particularly live and late-night shows, to a halt, delayed movies, and ushered in the rise of reality TV.

It's unclear how long this strike will last, but many TV productions will no doubt be affected in the meantime. According to Deadline, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Seth Meyers and The Daily Show are all set to be shut down immediately. Weekly shows including Saturday Night Live, Real Time with Bill Maher, and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver will also be similarly impacted due to their reliance on up-to-the-minute writing. Several of the nightly talk shows are set to be temporarily replaced by re-runs.


Matt Purslow is IGN's UK News and Features Editor.

Alex Stedman is a Senior News Editor with IGN, overseeing entertainment reporting. When she's not writing or editing, you can find her reading fantasy novels or playing Dungeons & Dragons.

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