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Day 133 of the WGA Strike: Don't Believe Everything You Read

By Dustin Rowles | TV | September 12, 2023 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | September 12, 2023 |


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I am not a television or film writer, and I am not an actor, but I’m invested in the dual strikes. I am not feeling the hurt like the thousands of writers and actors picketing every day, but if the strike continues, it will likely affect the bottom line here. That’s how far the reverberations of this strike can be felt: There are 11,000 writers and 170,000 actors out of work, but there are also thousands of crew members who have been out of work; the restaurants, delis, and food trucks that feed them are losing money, cutting shifts, and laying off people; and there are even a number of managers, agents, and lawyers who are hurting! Think of the lawyers!

I feel dispirited by the current state of the strike, and I can only imagine how writers and actors—some of whom are literally living in their cars now—must feel. It’s been four months without a paycheck. Greg Berlanti and Drew Carey can feed only so many people.

Meanwhile, there will be little scripted television on the broadcast networks in the fall, and things are already weird over on Max, where they’re filling gaps by licensing AMC content for two months. After Winning Time, there will not be a big Sunday night show on HBO for a month. And all these streamers keep raising prices, as though consumers won’t notice we’re paying more for less.

It’s a frustrating time! I personally check Deadline.com several times a day just to see if there are any updates, even though I know if there are updates, they can’t be trusted. Deadline journos are a bunch of studio puppets who’ll write anything the studios ask them to write if it means a bit of access. Last Friday, Deadline was ground zero for a minor skirmish between the WGA and the AMPTP. The WGA released an update suggesting that some of the legacy studios were ready to make a deal—desperate to do so—but were being prevented from doing so by the AMPTP. The AMPTP immediately fired back, however, saying that there was no dissension in their ranks. “The AMPTP member companies are aligned and are negotiating together to reach a resolution. Any suggestion to the contrary is false,” they wrote.

Are they negotiating to reach a resolution? Because what we keep reading is that—-rather than counteroffer—both the WGA and the AMPTP are waiting on the other side to make another offer, with both sides arguing they were the last to make a counteroffer.

In the midst of all this, it appears that a few (probably two) major showrunners — Kenya Barris and Noah Hawley — wanted to talk with the WGA’s negotiation committee to find out what is going on. However, the meeting was canceled. This is how Sharon Waxman at TheWrap characterized it.

The Writers Guild of America canceled a scheduled meeting with top Hollywood showrunners, including Kenya Barris and Noah Hawley, on Monday after a week of intense bickering over whether the guild was adequately seeking a resolution to the entertainment industry’s crippling four-month-old strike, TheWrap has learned. The showrunners began to reach out for clarification last Tuesday, and the exchanges with WGA leadership were described to TheWrap by an individual with knowledge as intense and emotional, with phone calls between individual showrunners and guild leaders leading to fights, shouting matches, and “screaming hangups,” as the individual put it.

I don’t think TheWrap is necessarily pro-AMPTP or pro-WGA/SAG-AFTRA. They are pro-click. They will publish anything that will generate more page views. This was a bad story. Not even Deadline ran with this news because the story is inaccurate, the sourcing is thin, and the positions are mischaracterized, at least according to TV Writer Jorge Reyes.

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I believe Reyes. You know why? This is why.

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The backlash was exactly how you might expect it to be on Twitter, and the WGA members were particularly vocal because the strike captains had just left a meeting with the WGA negotiating committee.

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As for dissension among the showrunners and the WGA?

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It’s time for someone at the AMPTP to step up, push Carol Lombardi aside, make a credible counteroffer, and get a deal done. The NFL can only fill so many hours of the television schedule.