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Hollywood braces for potential writers strike as deadline looms

The Writers Guild of America has voted to allow a strike if it is unable to agree on a new contract with major studios by midnight.
Hollywood braces for potential writers strike as deadline looms
Posted at 11:02 AM, May 01, 2023

The future of some of your favorite television and streaming shows could be in jeopardy if Hollywood writers can't reach an agreement with producers.

The Writers Guild of America, which represents thousands of film and TV writers, voted last month and overwhelmingly approved to strike if the group is unable to negotiate a new contract with major studios. The current contract is set to expire at midnight Monday, meaning some 11,000 union writers could go on strike as soon as Tuesday.

The union is demanding higher pay and better benefits, saying the expansion of streaming services has increased demand from writers and devalued their work.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, a negotiator for the studios, said the ratification of the strike authorization doesn't come as a surprise.

"Our goal is, and continues to be, to reach a fair and reasonable agreement," the association said in a statement.

SEE MORE: Streaming is changing how companies make money, for better or worse

Danny Tolli, a TV show writer and union member, told Scripps News that writers are experiencing the "most comprehensive assault" on compensation that he's ever seen. 

"The streaming industry was a huge boom for Hollywood and for writers. But at the same time, 10 years ago when streaming was first coming around, 33% of us were working at our contract minimums," Tolli said. "Now, today, that's half of our writers. Our pay has dramatically fallen despite a prosperous decade in film and TV. When you adjust that for inflation, our wages have declined 23%."

The last time the writers guild went on strike was back in 2007, when many network shows were forced to shorten seasons or cancel shows altogether to compensate. In 2017, another strike authorization was voted on an approved, but a deal with the studios was reached before the strike happened. 

"Our demands are reasonable," Tolli said. "If studios want to make any given product, whether that's film or TV or comedy variety, they have to find it in their budgets to pay writers like myself fairly for the value that we create." 

Both sides are expected to continue their negotiations up until the deadline, but Hollywood executives are reportedly preparing for a potential strike by stockpiling scripts and planning more reality television series.

SEE MORE: We have more TV and films than ever before, but can fans keep up?

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