THE BASIS POINT

‘The survival of writing as a profession is at stake’ in Hollywood Writers Guild strike

 
 

You can just picture the big Hollywood studio and streaming execs and their obsequious minions talking about ChatGPT saving the day as writers walk out on them this morning.

Probably the best Hollywood satire ever is a Robert Altman movie called The Player. It’s about a studio exec who gets away with murdering a writer. In it, Tim Robbins delivers a classic retort while sparring with another exec who insists writers are expendable, and that scripts just magically fall right out of news headlines:

I was just thinking what an interesting concept it is to eliminate the writer from the artistic process. If we could just get rid of these actors and directors, maybe we’ve got something here.

That movie is 30 years old next year, and the exec sentiment of expendable writers is fresh as ever.

The good news, as Tom Tapp at Deadline notes, is that Hollywood has been a union town for almost 100 years.

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) has helped writers hold the line in more than a dozen strikes, and the stakes are higher than ever in 2023 as studios become even more corporatized — nobody ever planned for Amazon or Apple to be among the most powerful studios.

This is what WGA said at the outset of today’s strike:

“Driven in large part by the shift to streaming, writers are finding their work devalued in every part of the business. While company profits have remained high and spending on content has grown, writers are falling behind. The companies have used the transition to streaming to cut writer pay and separate writing from production, worsening working conditions for series writers at all levels.

The companies’ behavior has created a gig economy inside a union workforce, and their immovable stance in this negotiation has betrayed a commitment to further devaluing the profession of writing. From their refusal to guarantee any level of weekly employment in episodic television, to the creation of a ‘day rate’ in comedy variety, to their stonewalling on free work for screenwriters and on AI for all writers, they have closed the door on their labor force and opened the door to writing as an entirely freelance profession. No such deal could ever be contemplated by this membership.”

In the link below, Tom has details on what’s at stake in this strike.

Sending strength to all the writers on picket lines today…

WGA Strike Explained: The Issues, The Stakes, Movies & TV Shows Affected — And How Long The 2023 Work Stoppage Might Last

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Check It Out:

WGA Strike Explained: The Issues, The Stakes, Movies & TV Shows Affected — And How Long The 2023 Work Stoppage Might Last

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