Three weeks into the strike, writers, represented by the Writers Guild of America, stand firm in their demand for fair pay and improved working conditions. The Hollywood writer’s strike, which started on May 2, has already disrupted the industry affecting many shows and award functions.
In a recent development, striking members of the Writers Guild of America said on May 16 that they would not picket next month’ Tony Awards telecast. Earlier, the guild had refused to negotiate an interim agreement or a waiver for the Tony Awards. But it issued a notice saying organizers “are altering this year’s show to conform with specific requests from the WGA, and therefore the WGA will not be picketing the show.” The guild hasn’t clarified the alteration yet, but it may be to allow a non-scripted version of the Tonys to proceed.
NBC Universal’s event that typically kicks off ad-selling for the next TV season was disrupted by strikers on May 15, posing a threat to the annual marketplace. More than 200 sign-carrying guild members circled the Manhattan blocks around Radio City Music Hall, chanting ‘Corporate greed’ and “I don’t know, but I’ve been told, NBC has a heart that’s cold” as media buyers entered.
Shows affected by the writers’ strike
The Writers Union representing 11,500 writers of film, television, and other entertainment forms has already been held responsible for casting a shadow over late-night TV shows like ‘The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,’ ‘The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,’ and ‘Saturday Night Live’ and delayed the making of scripted TV shows. The CBC drama ‘Evil,’ Apple TV + comedy ‘Loot,’ ABC’s ‘Abbot Elementary’ and ‘Stranger Things’ have all been paused for the moment due to the strike.
The first big awards show during the current strike was the MTV Movie & TV Awards, which had no host. These used an array of recycled clips and put together pre-recorded acceptance speeches. The strike has also disrupted the PEN America Gala and the Peabody Awards, which canceled its June 11 awards show.
Why is the strike taking place?
The writers’ demands include higher pay, a stable pay structure, and fairer deals and contracts about artificial intelligence, which they feel can jeopardize their career and job security. The guild called this moment an “existential crisis” for writers after announcing the strike earlier this month. WGA negotiating committee co-chair Chris Keyser said on the union’s website. “We have reached this moment today not of our choosing but because the companies’ assault on writer income and working conditions have pushed us to an existential brink.”
The strike happened in the first place due to failed negotiations between the guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. This body represents major Hollywood studios and production companies. According to a shocking report by WGA, median weekly writer-producer pay has declined 23% over the last decade when adjusting for inflation.
Since then, thousands of writers have moved to the streets to picket the headquarters of Netflix, Amazon, Warner Bros., Universal Studios, and others, protesting and brandishing signs demanding higher wages. Meanwhile, a courageous act took to the skies above Hollywood with a plane, carrying a provocative message aimed at major studios: ‘PAY THE WRITERS, YOU AI-H***S.’ The bold statement displayed both the issue of financial concerns of writers and the encroachment by Artificial intelligence. Some tongue-in-cheek messages also targeted studio executives like, ‘Give up just ONE yacht’ and ‘Pay your writers or we’ll spoil ‘Succession.’