Writers Guild of America Averts Crisis with Hollywood

Photo courtesy of Instagram user michelleburleson.
The W.G.A. and the AMPTP were able to come up with new deal just hours before the last contract expired.

Leah Laskowski, Assistant Tempo Editor

The Writers Guild of America voted on May 1 to decide whether to authorize a strike, one that could have halted TV production dead in its tracks.

Fortunately, the guild and the studios reached a deal that will keep the scripts coming for three more years at least, CNN reports.

The marathon negotiating session that went past the midnight deadline had Hollywood up checking their news apps for any signs of picket lines beginning the next morning.

“Did we get everything we wanted? No,” the Writers Guild of America noted in a memo after the final negotiation. “Did we get everything we deserve? Certainly not.”

Those who remember the 14-week strike back in 2007 know a late-night TV blackout, along with delays and shortened seasons for scripted shows scheduled to premiere in the fall, would have been on the horizon.

“It is certainly impacting the stress,” said Mike Royce, writer and producer of daytime soap opera “One Day at a Time.” “Like nearly every writer I’ve spoken to, I’ll vote yes to authorize a strike. The things were asking for are reasonable.”

The writers overwhelmingly voted in favor of authorizing the strike, but many writers noted that a vote for a strike meant hoping it wouldn’t come to that.

Fan favorites, including “The Walking Dead” and “American Horror Story,” would have been among the shows feeling the pressure.

“It’s going to be ugly,” said David Atkins, professor of film, screenwriter and member of the guild. “It was ugly 10 years ago, it’s going to get ugly again, and so everyone was vested in figuring something out.”

The looming strike came at a crucial moment for the industry in several ways.

Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon have taken a much bigger piece of the pie than they have ever before. In fact, 10 years ago they were thought to be a passing fad.

With vast libraries of content already piled up online for viewers to binge, this is not a time when any network wanted to be airing reruns, and without writers, late-night TV would have been forced to air reruns only.

The “Saturday Night Live’s” season would have been cut short, causing the much-anticipated return of host Melissa McCarthy and her Sean Spicer impersonation to be yanked off the air.

All parties involved remember how much pain the last strike caused, which is possibly why compromises were made.

The 100-day shut down in 2007 affected more than 60 TV shows including “E.R,” “Lost” and “30 Rock.” The top five broadcasting networks dropped over 20 percent and tens of thousands of jobs in California were lost, according to the Milken Institute.

The negotiations this time around included a 3 percent increase in script fees for the lowest-paid writers, bigger residuals from streaming media and a 1.5 percent increase in contributions to the guild’s health-plan, Vanity Fair reports.

Another victory for the guild included the contract also adding job protections for members on parental leave.

The arrangements did seem to be reasonable due to the fact that the average pay of TV writer-producers fell by 23 percent in the last two years, while big entertainment companies experienced a record of $51 billion in profits in 2016, said USA Today.

The decision was negotiated between the guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. At the final hours, the incentives were too grave to not avoid a strike at all costs.

Leah Laskowski
Leah Laskowski is a senior public relations/advertising major. This is her first year as assistant tempo editor. She also enjoys admiring the outdoors and “Game of Thrones.”

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