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    The WGA Writers' Strike Is Over, SAG-AFTRA Actors' Strike Continues

    UPDATE 9/27/23, 5pm: The WGA writers' strike is over as of Wednesday at 12:01 AM after union board members officially approved the tentative agreement struck between the WGA and AMPTP last Sunday. 


    The union’s negotiating committee co-chair Chris Keyser and union president Meredith Stiehm said on Tuesday night that when studio CEOs Disney’s Bob Iger, NBCUniversal’s Donna Langley, Warner Bros. Discovery’s David Zaslav and Netflix’s Ted Sarandos — joined the negotiations on Sept. 20, "the parties took only days to come to terms."

    You can read the full memorandum of the agreement here, and a summary here.

    On the negotiations, Keyser told The Hollywood Reporter that they, "Identified five key areas: for Appendix A, for [issues affecting] screenwriters, for the streaming residuals, for protection of the writers room, and the protections from AI. And we said we had to get something in all of them, that we were negotiable inside of that. We got all of them, and none of those issues ever became a blocking issue [an issue over which we would have had an impasse] in this negotiation."

    Details around two of those identified five key areas, generative A.I. and residuals, have come to light. 

    For A.I., the agreement "requires writers to obtain consent if they want to use generative AI and allows studios to 'reject a use of GAI that could adversely affect the copyrightability or exploitation of the work.'"

    The deal "doesn’t bar the use of A.I. but restricts how it can be credited and utilized."

    As for how the WGA's new streaming residuals will work, in a first it (the agreement) "can cut writers in on the success of streaming shows..."

    "The success-based residual will pay writers of streaming series and movies a bonus if the equivalent of 20 percent or more of a streaming service’s U.S. subscribers watch it within three months of release."

    With the writers' strike now over, where does this leave things with the ongoing SAG-AFTRA actors' strike? 

    The short answer is it is still ongoing. 

    But with the resolution of the writers' strike, there's potential for progress in the negotiations between SAG-AFTRA in key overlapping areas such as A.I. 

    Deadline reports such negotiations could occur "within days." 

    ORIGINAL STORY 9/25: After five straight days of marathon negotiations between AMPTP and the Writers Guild of America (WGA), a tentative agreement that would end the 146 day strike has been reached and was announced on Sunday, September 25. 

    In a statement to members the WGA said, "We have reached a tentative agreement on a new 2023 MBA, which is to say an agreement in principle on all deal points, subject to drafting final contract language."

    In the statement, the WGA called the deal "exceptional," with "meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership." 

    Even though a tentative deal has been reached, there's still more to be done before bringing writers back to work. 

    • The WGA staff has to make sure everything agreed to is codified in final contract language. The WGA will not share all the details until all the language is finalized. 
    • Once the Memorandum of Agreement with the AMPTP is complete, "the Negotiating Committee will vote on whether to recommend the agreement and send it on to the WGAW Board and WGAE Council for approval. The Board and Council will then vote on whether to authorize a contract ratification vote by the membership."
    • If that authorization is approved, "the Board and Council would also vote on whether to lift the restraining order and end the strike at a certain date and time (to be determined) pending ratification. This would allow writers to return to work during the ratification vote, but would not affect the membership’s right to make a final determination on contract approval."
    • Leadership votes are scheduled for Tuesday if the language is settled. At that point the WGA "will provide a comprehensive summary of the deal points and the Memorandum of Agreement," and will "also convene meetings where members will have the opportunity to learn more about and assess the deal before voting on ratification." 

    The WGA statement makes clear "no one is to return to work until specifically authorized to by the Guild. We are still on strike until then. But we are, as of today, suspending WGA picketing."

    President Joe Biden cheered the news in a statement Monday morning, “I applaud the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers for reaching a tentative agreement that will allow writers to return to the important work of telling the stories of our nation, our world — and of all of us."

    Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass commented on the tentative deal saying, "After a nearly five-month long strike, I am grateful that the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have reached a fair agreement and I’m hopeful that the same can happen soon with the Screen Actors Guild."

    And California Governor Gavin Newsom weighed in with a statement which said he is grateful "that the two sides have come together to reach an agreement that benefits all parties involved, and can put a major piece of California’s economy back to work."

    SAG-AFTRA strike ongoing

    While the WGA and AMPTP have reached a tentative agreement, SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP have not reached a deal, meaning the actors' strike is still ongoing. 

    But with the WGA agreement there is renewed hope on the horizon that SAG and AMPTP will have renewed momentum to settle the actors' strike. 

    In a statement issued Sunday night on the WGA strike, SAG-AFTRA congratulated the WGA saying, "SAG-AFTRA congratulates the WGA on reaching a tentative agreement with the AMPTP after 146 days of incredible strength, resiliency, and solidarity on the picket lines. While we look forward to reviewing the WGA and AMPTP’s tentative agreement, we remain committed to achieving the necessary terms for our members.

    Since the day the WGA strike began, SAG-AFTRA members have stood alongside the writers on the picket lines. We remain on strike in our TV/Theatrical contract and continue to urge the studio and streamer CEOs and the AMPTP to return to the table and make the fair deal that our members deserve and demand."

    SAG-AFTRA's TV / Theatrical / Streaming / Negotiating Committee also shared on X (formerly known as Twitter) that they, "look forward to reviewing the terms of the WGA and AMPTP's tentative agreement. And we remain ready to resume our own negotiations with the AMPTP as soon as they are prepared to engage on our proposals in a meaningful way. Until then, we continue to stand strong and unified." 

    Which shows will return to work first?

    According to The Hollywood Reporter, "The shows likely to get their writers back include The Last of Us, Billions, Stranger Things, The Handmaid's Tale, Hacks, Severance, Yellowjackets and Abbott Elementary."

    THR claims audiences can expect non-actor involved TV shows, including daytime and late-night talk shows, to be the first to return on air. Primetime chat shows hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers are lined up for a potential return as early as October.

    Similarly, daytime shows such as The Drew Barrymore Show, The Jennifer Hudson show, and The Talk could resume shortly.

    Even with the good news, the resumption of TV dramas and comedies is likely to take more time due to factors such as the actors' strike and the complex logistics involved in restarting large-scale productions.

    Topics: Industry News

    Chris C. Anderson

    VP, Head of Content at GreenSlate

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