LOS ANGELES (AFP): The leaders of the Writers Guild of America on Tuesday called off a monthslong strike that has paralyzed Hollywood, accepting a pay deal hammered out with production studios.
The powerful writers’ union’s board of directors “voted unanimously to recommend the agreement,” it said in a statement, adding “the strike ends at 12:01 am” Los Angeles time on Wednesday.
The union’s 11,500 members will have final say on whether or not to accept the offer, with a vote to take place between October 2 and 9, the group said.
Details of the deal released by the WGA on Tuesday seemed to show a victory for the writers, who were pushing for more pay amid the upending of the industry via streaming, as well as protections from artificial intelligence.
Bonuses will be in place for writers on a series that is viewed by 20 percent or more of a streamer’s domestic subscribers in the first 90 days of its release, a win for writers who saw their residuals decline in the Internet age.
AI-generated material also can’t be considered “source material,” and thus undercut writers’ pay if they work on a script that used AI.
The WGA also “reserves the right to assert that exploitation of writers’ material to train AI is prohibited,” according to the summary.
Theoretically, the deal can still be rejected by the screenwriters, but most industry experts believe the ratification will be a formality.
Work on stymied TV and film projects can restart while the voting process is being completed.
Late night talk shows are expected to start airing again next month.
– Actors’ strike still unresolved –
Thousands of film and television scribes had downed their pens in early May over demands including better pay, greater rewards for creating hit shows, and protection from artificial intelligence.
They have manned picket lines for months outside offices including Netflix and Disney, and were joined by striking actors in mid-July, leaving normally busy Hollywood lots all but vacant in a dramatic show of force.
Five days of intensive talks between the guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the studios, culminated Sunday.
Industry watchers expect it will be welcomed by the membership.
“We can say, with great pride, that this deal is exceptional — with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership,” the guild said Sunday.
WGA member Cylin Busby said while she didn’t know all the details of the deal, she was optimistic.
“The messaging that we’re getting from our union is so positive that I would be shocked if it’s not a really good deal for the writers,” she told AFP on Tuesday.
“I’m ready to get back to work.”
Even if the deal is approved, Hollywood will remain a long way from normal service, with actors — represented by the SAG-AFTRA union — still refusing to work.
A resolution to that stoppage is expected to take a minimum of several more weeks.
Some of SAG-AFTRA’s demands go further than those of the WGA.
And with hundreds of film and television shoots backed up, it could still then take months for Hollywood to clear the logistical logjam and get fully back to work.
Actors were on the picket lines Tuesday outside Netflix, being joined by members of the WGA who were there in support.
“Our strike is over. But the battle goes on until the actors get their deal,” said WGA member Vinnie Wilhelm.
“We would not have gotten the deal that we have gotten if it weren’t for the support of the actors.”