The conclusion of the nearly five-month-long Hollywood strike seems imminent, as a tentative agreement has been reached between the unionized screenwriters and the various entities that employ them, including studios, streaming services, and production companies.
This development brings a sense of relief to the industry, as it paves the way for the resumption of normal operations and the creation of new content.
However, it is important to acknowledge that while the writers’ strike may be coming to an end, the actors’ strike persists, raising questions about the future of their negotiations and the potential impact on the overall production landscape.
As the two sides continue to navigate their respective challenges, the industry eagerly awaits a resolution that will bring stability and allow for the seamless collaboration between writers and actors, ultimately ensuring the continued success of the entertainment sector.
FIRST COMES TWO CRUCIAL VOTES
Following an intense and protracted series of negotiations spanning five days, involving the chief executive officers of the most prominent studios in Hollywood, the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers reached a mutually agreeable resolution on Sunday evening.
This momentous agreement entails a contract that will remain in effect for a duration of three years, which is the customary length observed within the industry.
The arduous nature of the negotiations, coupled with the involvement of key industry stakeholders, underscores the significance of this achievement and the magnitude of its potential impact on the world of film and television production.
The agreement reached between these two influential entities holds the promise of fostering a more harmonious and productive working relationship, thereby facilitating the creation of exceptional content that captivates audiences worldwide.
In order for the strike to come to an end, two crucial votes need to take place. Firstly, the boards of the WGA’s eastern and western branches must give their approval to the proposed deal.
Following this, the 11,500 members themselves must participate in a vote to determine whether or not they agree with the terms of the agreement.
It is worth noting that these types of votes are not uncommon within Hollywood unions, occurring regularly whenever a new three-year contract is negotiated.
However, it is unusual for such votes to occur at the conclusion of a protracted strike. Looking back at the previous writers strike in 2008, board members voted in favor of the deal just two days after it was reached, and shortly thereafter, members themselves cast their votes, with an overwhelming majority of over 90% in favor of the agreement.
Despite the recent agreement reached by leaders on various issues such as compensation, the size of writing staffs, and the use of artificial intelligence in scriptwriting, the outcome of the vote is not a guaranteed success.
It is inevitable that certain members will be dissatisfied with the compromises made, particularly after enduring almost five months of unemployment and picket lines.
It is worth noting that a similar 11th-hour agreement was met with controversy and barely passed, preventing a strike by another union representing Hollywood crews in 2021.
However, the overwhelming desire to return to work may compel some writers, even those with mixed feelings, to ultimately vote in favor of the agreement.
WHEN WILL WRITERS AND SHOWS RETURN?
Once the contract is officially approved, the resumption of work for writers will occur at varying speeds, with some experiencing a quicker return than others.
The initial impact of the strike was felt by late-night talk shows, and it is likely that they will be among the first to resume broadcasting.
Prominent shows such as NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” and CBS’s “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” could potentially be back on the air within a matter of days.
However, although the show’s comedy writers will be able to resume their duties, many of the usual guests may not be able to appear due to the ongoing actors strike, which imposes limitations on such appearances.
The anticipated return of these shows amidst the backdrop of the second strike could generate controversy, as was the case with the planned-but-eventually-canceled resumptions of daytime shows like “The Drew Barrymore Show” and “The Talk.”
The approach of the actors union towards the ongoing strike has been relatively less fervent compared to that of the Writers Guild of America (WGA).
The leaders of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) have displayed a more flexible stance by granting interim agreements, which have allowed numerous non-studio productions to continue despite the strike.
This is in stark contrast to the refusal of their counterparts in the Writers Guild to grant such agreements. Furthermore, SAG-AFTRA leaders have shown a willingness to not obstruct the attempts of shows to resume production.
As a result, the writers rooms for scripted shows that were forced to shut down at the onset of the strike, such as “Stranger Things” on Netflix, “Severance” on Apple TV+, and “Abbott Elementary” on ABC, are likely to reactivate quickly.
However, due to the absence of performers to bring the scripts to life, there will inevitably be significant delays between the written page and the final screen production.
On the other hand, film writers will gradually resume their work at a slower pace, with those working on scripts or late revisions for already scheduled movies, such as “Deadpool 3” and “Superman: Legacy,” likely to be working diligently to avoid any further delays in the release dates.
HOW LONG WILL THE ACTORS STRIKE LAST?
The decision made by the studios that comprise the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) to prioritize reaching an agreement with writers, who had embarked on a strike two months prior, before initiating negotiations with actors, was a strategic move that aimed to address the pressing concerns of the industry.
By addressing the writers’ demands first, the studios were able to mitigate the significant impact the strike had on the production of television shows and films, which had come to a standstill during the labor dispute.
This decision demonstrated the studios’ recognition of the crucial role writers play in the creative process and their willingness to address their grievances in a timely manner.
Furthermore, by resolving the writers’ dispute, the studios could then focus their attention on the negotiations with actors, ensuring a smoother transition and a more efficient resolution to the labor issues faced by the industry as a whole.
This deliberate approach not only showcased the studios’ commitment to maintaining a harmonious relationship with the various stakeholders in the entertainment industry but also underscored their dedication to finding mutually beneficial solutions that would safeguard the interests of both the studios and the creative professionals involved.
The leaders of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) have recently revealed that they have not received any communication or proposals from the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) since their strike commenced on July 14.
However, it is highly probable that this situation will change in the near future, leading to the initiation of another round of negotiations between the two parties.
The duration of these negotiations is uncertain at this point, as it is difficult to predict how long they may take.
Drawing from past experiences, it took approximately three months into the writers strike before the AMPTP made the first move to engage in negotiations.
Unfortunately, these initial talks faltered after a mere few days. Nevertheless, a month later, the studios once again extended an invitation for discussions, and this time, a successful agreement was reached in less than a week.