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Striking Hollywood Writers, Studios Meet to Discuss Resuming Talks

REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo
Striking Writers Guild of America (WGA) members walk the picket line in front of Netflix offices as SAG-AFTRA union announced it had agreed to a ‘last-minute request’ by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers for federal mediation, but it refused to again extend its existing labor contract past the 11:59 p.m. Wednesday negotiating deadline, in Los Angeles, California, U.S., July 12, 2023.

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – As the Hollywood writers’ strike approaches the 100-day mark, Writers Guild of America (WGA) negotiators met on Friday with representatives of the major studios for the first time in three months to discuss whether contract talks can resume.

The 11,500 members of the guild walked out May 2, citing an impasse over pay, streaming residuals and other issues such as setting curbs on the use of artificial intelligence. Next Wednesday marks the 100th day of the strike.

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said she was encouraged by the reopening of communication, as the Hollywood writers’ and actors’ dual strikes negatively impact the economy.

“It is critical that this gets resolved immediately so that Los Angeles gets back on track and I stand ready to personally engage with all the stakeholders in any way possible to help get this done,” Bass said in a statement.

Neither the WGA nor the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which negotiates on behalf of Walt Disney DIS.N, Netflix NFLX.O, had given any updates on the talks by mid-afternoon.

But ahead of Friday’smeeting, they traded pointed statements.

The WGA’s negotiating committee said it was time for the studios to abandon the tactics they used during the previous writers’ strike in 2007-08, including allegedly spreading misinformation about the real impact of the strike.

“We challenge the studios and AMPTP to come to the meeting they called for this Friday with a new playbook,” the WGA said in an email. “Be willing to make a fair deal and begin to repair the damage your strikes and your business practices have caused the workers in this industry.”

The AMPTP called the WGA rhetoric “unfortunate.”

“Tomorrow’s discussion with the WGA is to determine whether we have a willing bargaining partner,” the AMPTP said in a statement, adding “Our only playbook is getting people back to work.”

Previously, the group said it had offered writers generous increases in compensation, and put forward improvements in the residuals paid to writers for making their movies and TV shows available on streaming services.

The work stoppage is taking a toll on florists, caterers, costume suppliers and other small businesses that support the entertainment industry. Those impacts were magnified, on July 14, when members of the Screen Actors Guild went on strike, after being unable to reach an agreement with the studios on a new three-year contract.

The AMPTP issued a statement, saying the actors had walked away from more than $1 billion in wage increases, pension and health contributions and residual increases.

The twin job actions are rippling broadly through the entertainment industry, halting most work on scripted series for the fall TV season as well as film production.

Fox is expected to announce that television’s Emmy Awards will be rescheduled to air in January due to the strikes, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing a person familiar with the plans.

Meanwhile, Warner Bros Discovery WBD.O warned investors Thursday that uncertainty over the dual strikes could delay film releases and impact its ability to produce and deliver content.