Hollywood writers reach ‘tentative’ but ‘exceptional’ deal to end WGA strike after 146 days

WGA members must now vote to approve deal to end strike

Namita Singh
Monday 25 September 2023 07:08 BST
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Related: Bryan Cranston joins striking actors and writers at New York protest

Hollywood writers have reached a “tentative” deal to end the strike after 146 days, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) has announced.

On Sunday (24 September), the WGA announced that they had reached a major development and struck a deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, nearly five months after the writers’ union began their historic strike. The AMPTP is the group that represents studios, streaming services and producers in negotiations.

In a statement shared with union members via email, the union wrote: “[The] WGA has reached a tentative agreement with the AMPTP. This was made possible by the enduring solidarity of WGA members and extraordinary support of our union siblings who joined us on the picket lines for over 146 days.”

The three-year contract agreement was settled on after five marathon days of renewed talks by negotiators WGA and the AMPTP.

The terms of the deal were not immediately announced, but the WGA, which represents 11,500 film and television writers, described it as “exceptional” with “meaningful gains and protections for writers”.

The deal must now be approved by the guild’s board and members for the strike to officially end. During the last writers’ strike in 2008, the tentative deal was approved by more than 90 per cent of WGA members.

Were the current strike to last another five days, it would become the longest in the guild’s history, and the longest Hollywood strike in decades.

While a milestone, the WGA settlement will not return Hollywood to work, however. The SAG-AFTRA actors’ union remains on strike.

Writers put down their pens on 2 May after negotiations reached an impasse over a range of labour issues. These include compensation, minimum staffing of writers’ rooms, the use of artificial intelligence and residuals that reward writers for popular streaming shows, among other issues.

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Hollywood‘s dual strikes had shut down production of movies and TV series and sent late-night talk shows into re-runs. Efforts to restart daytime talk shows without writers – including The Drew Barrymore Show – collapsed this month following significant criticism from striking writers and actors.

Striking WGA (Writers Guild of America) members picket with striking SAG-AFTRA members outside Paramount Studios on 18 September 2023 in Los Angeles

While writers protested at the picket lines, executives at times fanned tensions. Disney CEO Bob Iger, fresh off a contract extension that offered an annual bonus of five times his base salary, criticised striking writers and actors as “just not realistic” in their demands.

Iger subsequently struck a conciliatory note, citing his “deep respect” for creative professionals.

The work stoppages took a toll on camera operators, carpenters, production assistants and other crew members, as well as the caterers, florists, costume suppliers and other small businesses that support film and television production.

The economic cost is expected to total at least $5bn (£4bn) in California and the other US production hubs of New Mexico, Georgia and New York, according to an estimate from Milken Institute economist Kevin Klowden.

Four top industry executives – Iger, Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos and NBCUniversal Studio Group Chair Donna Langley – joined negotiations this week, helping to break the months-long impasse.

The AMPTP, the trade group representing Walt Disney, Netflix, Warner Bros Discovery and other major studios, did not immediately respond to Reuters’s request for comment

Additional reporting from Reuters

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