June 4, 2023

Brighton Journal

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Show-makers unite against returning to production duties – The Hollywood Reporter

Exhibitors packed the WGA Theater Saturday in Beverly Hills for an hours-long union meeting designed to update the television industry’s top producers and writers on the status of the WGA strike against the Motion Picture and Television Producers Alliance.

The meeting came after the first week of the strike, in which studios like Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery and Paramount, among others, sent letters last week asking exhibitors to continue not writing production duties, in some cases in ways that could cross a picket line. For example, Disney’s letter to dissenters said that in that capacity they “may be required” to perform so-called “(a) by (h) services,” which are prohibited from being performed under the WGA’s strike rules.

“Everyone is very aligned and united [across the board]One of the longtime models who attended the meeting and who observed during the WGA strike in 2007-08, said that the issue of returning to work as a producer generated a lot of conflict and arguments among union members. “It’s very different from ’07.”

WGA Negotiating Committee co-chair Chris Keser took center stage again on Saturday, reiterating remarks from Wednesday’s gathering that outlined how talks with AMPTP broke down before turning into a larger discussion about why the showrunners don’t offer non-writing production services. or promote their offers. during the strike.

“It’s as simple as we’re at war with the studios,” a showrunner relayed Keizer’s remarks. “We can’t be at war one day and partners with them the next. If we’re going to ‘take your consideration’ [Emmy] Event, we are their partners. It is impossible to separate the brain of the producer from the brain of the writer. Everything really writes, especially when you’re a model.”

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Ann Fariday, senior director of membership organization for the WGA, emailed the contestants an invitation on Friday inviting them to meet with the union’s leadership on Saturday to discuss “where we are, how we got here, and where we go from here.”. ” Sources described the scene as a packed house and “bigger than anything” similar to what happened in the WGA’s final 100-day strike in 2007-08. According to the venue’s website, the seating capacity is just under 500 with attendees describing the turnout as being at capacity if not more.

Among those in attendance on Saturday was Damon Lindelof (Peacock Mrs. Davis), David E. Kelly (ABC’s the sky is big, Max Love and deathAnd Netflix’s Lincoln attorney), Bill Lawrence (Apple Inc Ted Lasso, shrink), Alex Kurtzman ( Star Trek franchise at Paramount +) and Shawn Ryan (Netflix’s night agent). During breakfast, many of the senior writers present said that the guild officials encouraged them to exchange differing opinions on non-book works.

The fact that the opposition was encouraged by Keyser and David Goodman [WGA negotiating committee co-chair] said one of those present. As someone who was an opponent [during the guild’s battle with agencies over packaging fees]This is not encouraged during the ATA campaign. “It’s a different world without David Young in charge.”

Ryan, a five-time member of the WGA’s Negotiating Committee who participated in this tour, spoke from the audience about why he changed his mind in 2007 and chose not to perform production services for the studios. He described the situation as “a never-ending series of moral dilemmas that could never be resolved before it was stated that it was cleaner to walk away from the production”, according to a member in attendance.

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During the meeting, the showrunners brought up the divergent directions they were getting from reps and employers when it came to their production duties. “Everyone has a different representation and they work for different studios that have different levels of hardcore about it. It’s hard when you get a ‘scary message,’ which is what they call it,” said one of the attendees. The WGA was encouraging show participants to communicate to address their personal situations not in a meeting group setting, but one-on-one.

On Friday, the union responded to reports of studio letters blasting Disney in particular. “The hyphenated rules (members working dual jobs) are prohibited from performing any writing services, including ‘(a) to (h) jobs,” the union stated to its strike rules, which put showrunners and producer writers on the hook as they move between the divergent demands of the employer and the union.

“(A) to (h)came in often,” says the same meeting attendee, a veteran bidder who admitted he didn’t know what those duties involved, because he’d only heard about them recently. “They reminded us we couldn’t do it [those duties]. The problem is that it is very difficult to say where writing ends and something else begins.

Other WGA leaders on stage included Eileen Stutzman, the WGA’s chief negotiator who stepped into the role after the union’s Western Branch executive director, David Young, went on medical leave in late February, negotiating committee co-chair David Goodman, union treasurer Betsy Thomas and Chief Meredith Steam. Stutzman reiterated her comments on Wednesday about the WGA receiving support from other unions, singling out the Teamsters on Saturday. Stutzman noted that this strike differs from 2007-08 because many of the underlying issues are specific to the writers, making it unlikely that the WGA would accept the same deal offered to the Directors Guild of America. During the recent strike, the DGA cut a deal in front of the writers that provided a template for the WGA’s final settlement with the studios.

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“What Eileen he did not do Let’s not expect a repeat of 2007 where the DGA comes in and makes a deal and we take it — because even if they negotiate the best deal in the world, this deal won’t fix the problems of small rooms, protection spans and writers work at least,” said another observer.

Hollywood Reporter WGA representatives have been reached for comment.

The WGA strike began on May 2 after the WGA and AMPTP could not come to an agreement and the union’s current basic minimum agreement expired. During rallies Wednesday in Los Angeles and New York, the WGA demonstrated solidarity with other unions — including the Directors Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA, whose contracts with the studios expire on June 30. A week in a show of solidarity and support in the battle with AMPTP on central issues including higher pay floors, data transparency from streamers, microroom regulation and the use of artificial intelligence. Negotiations between the DGA and AMPTP begin next week.

Another veteran showrunner summed it up: “Every question [Saturday] It was about, How can I best promote the cause? Everyone is doing the right things.”