WGA Strike: the real story of tense negotiations between screenwriters and hollywood majors

Picture this: It’s Monday night and the Writers Guild of America is dropping a truth bomb about the recent negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. The gist? They’ve hit a few home runs, but they’re still striking out on some pretty big points.

Okay, let’s back up a bit. To understand the game, we need to know the players. The Writers Guild of America (WGA) is the crew batting for the writers, while the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) is the team representing the big leagues of Hollywood.

Now, here’s the tea: the WGA was aiming for some serious wins, like making sure they get paid based on how many people actually watch their shows (viewership-based residuals). Sounds fair, right? But the streaming giants are holding their cards close to their chest, not even showing their own stars how well their shows are doing. Spoiler alert: The AMPTP wasn’t buying this idea.

Another big swing by the WGA was around the use of artificial intelligence (AI). With the rise of robots, the guild wanted to make sure that good ol’ human creativity wouldn’t be replaced by AI. They proposed some ground rules, like no AI scribing literary material. The AMPTP’s response? A vague offer to chat about tech advancements annually.

And the plot thickens on the feature film front. The WGA proposed that any movie with a budget over $12 million should get the same treatment as a theater release. The response from the production companies? They raised the bar to $40 million, but offered a 9% increase in initial compensation. But here’s the kicker: there was no sweetening of the pot when it came to residuals.

Now, the WGA also wanted to ensure writers’ rooms weren’t left high and dry. Their proposition: a minimum of six writers per room, with more added as episode orders grew. This was a no-go for the studios.

Another bone of contention: “mini rooms” – small groups of writers brainstorming stories before a series is officially greenlit. The WGA wanted a solid 10 weeks of work, including visits to the set. This old-school practice is not as popular with studios and streamers these days, but some showrunners are advocating for it as a way to mentor up-and-comers.

One last sticking point? The concept of “span,” basically how long it takes to make a series. The WGA was pushing for protections to ensure writers get a fair shake for shows that might take years to finish. This one also ended in a stalemate.

Bottom line: the two sides are still miles apart. The WGA believed their proposals would earn writers an additional $429 million per year, while the AMPTP’s offer was a much more modest $86 million.

Despite the stalemate, there were some victories. The WGA managed to score script fees for staff writers, an increase in span cap, and some protections for writers on limited series. But the AMPTP had some objections too, arguing that the WGA’s push for minimum size and duration of writers’ rooms could force companies to hire more writers than necessary.

So, that’s the story so far. High stakes, big swings, and the game’s far from over. As for the fans? We’re just here for the popcorn, eagerly waiting to see who will step up to the plate next.

Hat tip to The Hollywood Reporter and Variety.

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