Fri, July 19, 2024

The Writers Win: What Happens Next?

The major news broke late Sunday night and the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers’ respective negotiating committees shook hands. The news came after 146 days of picketing, negotiating attempts, and heaps of frustration. Along the way, truTV’s Adam Conover somehow became the Twitter spokesman for unfolding developments.

At 12:00 AM on Wednesday, the strike was over. Streaming services and studios met the demands of the guild, increasing healthcare benefits, salaries, royalties, and protections from Artificial Intelligence (AI). Essentially, everything that the writers advocated has become a reality.

It is a bold hallmark of 2023’s summer of labor, especially in the wake of ongoing demonstrations among other industries. The final day of the Writer’s Strike coincided with President Joe Biden’s visit to the United Auto Workers’ picket line in Michigan, a first for a sitting U.S. President. Needless to say, history has definitely been made this week.

In terms of the Entertainment Industry, now what? Don’t get too excited if you’re expecting productions to resume on a dime. The Screen Actors Guild is still on strike, with negotiations with the AMPTP expected to resume in the coming weeks. The first Television shows immediately affected by the WGA strike were talk shows. The likes of Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert may soon return to their studios, but with limited guests (SAG continues to limit promotional tours from their members for upcoming releases). NBC’s Saturday Night Live may be able to return, kicking off its 49th season in a nearly timely manner. The players on the weekly variety series are covered under different SAG contracts than the strikers, but it would be a decision based on solidarity whether or not they choose to return.

As for movies, new releases are still being released. Nothing has immediately changed for the audience. Upcoming openings, such as Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon are still on the books. It is in the long run where we see the effects of the strikes. Two Avengers movies were postponed until 2026 and 2027. Actress, Gal Gadot’s planned starring role as Cleopatra has also been pushed back, as the script reportedly needed an overhaul that it did not receive over the summer. Actress, Zendaya stars in the new sports-comedy Challengers, which was scheduled for a September 15, 2023 release, but has moved to April 26, 2024.

The short answer to the question remains: what happens next? The actors get their share. The Screen Actors Guild, under the leadership of Union President, Fran Drescher, must continue to rally, and AMPTP must give them new standards in the name of equity; a union with only 20% of its membership guaranteed healthcare coverage, and whose body is mostly made up of background and bit-part actors, concerned in the age of CGI and “deepfakes” that they may not be necessary for the business.

It’s a domino effect of unity and equity, all of which ends with greater security, collaboration, and respect for the work. Now, up for strike two.

Dylan James graduated from the Savannah College of Art & Design with a BFA in Dramatic Writing. He has studied both the ‘show’ and ‘business’ aspects of show business since childhood, and writes through sociological analysis, seeking relevance in the art and commerce for the moment.

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