Thousands of Hollywood movie and television writers are participating in a nation-wide strike, protesting for better wages and shares of the profits from streaming platforms.
Members of the Writers’ Guild Of America (WGA)- which represents 11,500 writers working in film, television and other forms of entertainment, had been in negotiations for six weeks after which the strike was announced on May 2, in a letter written to The Alliance Of Motion Pictures and Television Producers (AMPTP):
“Though we negotiated intent on making a fair deal — and though your strike vote gave us the leverage to make some gains — the studios’ responses to our proposals have been wholly insufficient, given the existential crisis writers are facing. The companies’ behavior has created a gig economy inside a union workforce, and their immovable stance in this negotiation has betrayed a commitment to further devaluing the profession of writing.”
A report shared in March by WGA stated that while the number of jobs has soared in the entertainment industry, budget allocations towards television and film writers has largely reduced by 4% in the last decade. Vox reported that as television shows have begun shortening their seasons by going for 8-10 episodes in comparison to 22 episodes per season, writers are paid less for their jobs. Adding that for movie screenwriters, their salary has not increased since 2018, which means that during inflation, their salaries have reduced by 14%.
The guild demanded that studio owners address the rise of the ‘mini-room’, a practice in which two or three writers are hired to work on a show rather than the usual seven, before it is even picked up for production. The letter highlighted that with this practice, writers are paid less than they generally receive for a regular writer’s room, and are usually disposed off when production begins.
What does this mean for all of our favorite shows? The last time a strike happened was in 2007, causing several hit shows like ‘The Office’ and ‘Breaking Bad’ to delay production and cut down several episodes.
This time, the popular shows whose production is under threat include Netflix’s monster hit ‘Stranger Things’. Los Angeles Times reports that although writing for the 5th season began last year in August, Netflix did not confirm that the scripts had been completed.
Showtime’s hit comedy series ‘Abbott Elementary’ has already put its Season 3 on hold with several writers participating in the protest to improve their wages. Speaking to Democracy Now, writer Brittani Nichols demanded that the studio start prioritizing their workers, rather than Wall Street.
Critically acclaimed thriller series ‘Yellowjackets’ has also announced a halt in production, as confirmed by the co-creator Ashley Lye. In a tweet, she revealed that work on Season 3 has stopped until a fair deal is negotiated with WGA
Popular late-night talk shows like ‘The Late Show’ and ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!’ have already shut down production and popular television host Seth Meyers addressing the strike during a segment and sent solidarity to the writers:
“I love writing. I love writing for TV. I love writing this show. I love that we get to come in with an idea for what we want to do every day and we get to work on it all afternoon and then I have the pleasure of coming out here. No one is entitled to a job in show business. But for those people who have a job, they are entitled to fair compensation. They are entitled to make a living. I think it’s a very reasonable demand that’s being set out by the guild. And I support those demands.”
Leave a Reply