In a significant development, the major entertainment studios and the thousands of striking writers have decided to meet and resume talks following a three-month impasse, according to the writers guild. The Writers Guild of America conveyed the news to screenwriters in an email on Tuesday night, revealing that Carol Lombardini, the studio negotiator, requested a meeting to discuss negotiations. The meeting marks the first sign of progress since negotiations between the writers and studios broke down in early May, leading to a stalemate that has had severe repercussions on the production of scripted entertainment in the United States.
Shut it Down
The strike, which began in May, has led to a near-complete shutdown of scripted entertainment production in the country, affecting tens of thousands of actors and writers. In a rare occurrence, both actors and writers took to picket lines on July 14, initiating the first simultaneous actors-and-writers walkout since 1960. Initially, there were assumptions that the studios would attempt to resume negotiations with SAG-AFTRA, the actors’ union, as historically, this guild has been more open to bargaining with the studios compared to the writers, who have taken a firmer stance. Throughout the decades, members of the writers guild have gone on strike multiple times, most notably in 2008 for a staggering 100 days, while the actors’ last strike took place in 1980.
However, the situation seems to have shifted, as Fran Drescher, the president of SAG-AFTRA and the former star of “The Nanny,” launched sharp criticisms at studio executives, including Disney’s chief executive, Robert A. Iger. This led some studio executives to perceive the writers as more amenable to returning to the negotiation table. The writers and actors initiated the strike due to concerns over compensation levels and working conditions, particularly in light of the impact of streaming content on the entertainment industry. The writers union views their grievances as “existential” and is fighting for their survival, as conveyed by Chris Keyser, a chair of the guild negotiating committee, in a recent video address to members.
Despite the hardline stance, Keyser offered an “olive branch” to the studios, urging them to envision a solution rather than prolonging the stalemate. He emphasized that the writers remain united and hold significant power in the industry, as nothing happens in entertainment until they put pen to paper and start writing. The forthcoming meeting between the studios and writers provides a glimmer of hope for the entertainment industry’s recovery and a potential resolution to the ongoing dispute. As both sides come together for negotiations, the fate of scripted entertainment production in the United States hangs in the balance.