Writers Guild of America Calls a Strike, Late-Night Productions Forced to Cease Operations
The Writers Guild of America (WGA) is officially on strike, following failed negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers (AMPTP) to reach an agreement on an updated film and scripted television contract.
“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 WGA wrote in a message to its members on Monday evening, via Deadline. “We must now exert the maximum leverage possible to get a fair contract by withholding our labor.”
The WGA later put out an official statement, announcing that the guild voted unanimously to call a strike, stating that companies under the AMPTP umbrella, including Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Disney, Discovery-Warner, NBC Universal, Paramount and Sony, had “betrayed a commitment to further devaluing the profession of writing” with their “immovable stance” in their negotiations. Notably, the WGA’s strike marks the first from the guild since it staged a 100-day walkout in 2007.
Entering negotiations, the WGA sought higher compensation, stable writers’ rooms and better health coverage, as writers today face low residuals and job insecurity, despite a surge in content creation across streaming platforms in recent years.
“From their refusal to guarantee any level of weekly employment in episodic television, to the creation of a ‘day rate’ in comedy variety, to their stonewalling on free work for screenwriters and on AI for all writers, they have closed the door on their labor force and opened the door to writing as an entirely freelance profession. No such deal could ever be contemplated by this membership,” the statement read.
In regards to AI, the WGA looked to “regulate use of artificial intelligence on MBA covered projects,” proposing that “AI can’t write or rewrite literary material; can’t be used as source material; and MBA-covered material can’t be used to train AI.” In negotiations, the aforementioned studios rejected the WGA’s proposal, instead offering yearly meetings to address technological advancements and their effects on the industry.
Without writers, the studios are beginning to shut down their shows and their in-development projects. Among the first, NBC’s Saturday Night Live has called off production, canceling its upcoming episode, which was slated to feature the hosting debut of former castmember Pete Davidson and a musical performance from Lil Uzi Vert, this Saturday. In a statement, NBC said, “SNL will air repeats until further notice starting Saturday, May 6.”
ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live!, CBS’ Late Show With Stephen Colbert and NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Night With Seth Meyers have also shut down production.
Alongside the strike, the WGA scheduled a members’ information session on May 3 at the Shrine Auditorium.
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