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Breakthrough talks in Hollywood writers’ strike

September 25, 2023

A tentative deal with studios has reportedly been reached that could see the Hollywood writers’ strike, that has lasted nearly five months, come to an end.

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) said the proposed deal was “exceptional – with meaningful gains and protections for writers,” reported the BBC. WGA members must still have a final say.

It is the longest strike to affect Hollywood in decades and has halted nearly all film and TV production. As well as issues around pay, the writers fear the impact of AI potentially ‘stealing’ jobs.

Variety reports that staff on late-night talk shows could return to work as soon as September 26th following the announcement, adding broadcasts could resume as soon as October.

But in its message to members, the union’s negotiating committee asked for patience on details of the pact.

“What remains now is for our staff to make sure everything we have agreed to is codified in final contract language,” the union said. “And though we are eager to share the details of what has been achieved with you, we cannot do that until the last ‘i’ is dotted.”

A separate dispute involves actors, who are also on strike.

Responding to the news Jeff Richey, TV analyst at WatchTVAbroad, commented: “The painful stalemate between Hollywood writers and studios may finally be coming to an end, but the battle lines, about the use of AI in the TV and film industry, remain in place. Almost five months of disruptions, halting the production of hit shows, have put companies on edge, particularly in the sharp-elbowed streaming market. The likes of Netflix and Disney are locked in a fierce battle for subscribers and as they delve further into ad monetisation — with Amazon the latest to join the party —  it’s crucial for them to keep the wheels rolling on their biggest hits like Stranger Things and The Handmaid’s Tale.

Richey continued: “While this new deal for US writers may offer some respite and the promise of resumed production, it’s still anything but business as usual in Hollywood. The disputes, including the ongoing actors’ strike have marked a turning point in Hollywood, with creators and A-list stars standing up against industry executives as both sides try to come to terms with how technology has reshaped the landscape. Changes brought by the recent streaming revolution, such as the bigger gap between show seasons and the way performers are paid for repeats, seem far easier to address than the myriad threats posed by the rise of AI, from deepfakes to machine-led ‘script polishing’. In Tinseltown money talks, and the pressure for profit – through smash hits or greater efficiencies – is not going away. This deal may keep the AI wolf from the door, but for how long?”

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