Sep 28, 2023

Writers Guild of America Strike Officially Ends After 148 Days Transcript

Writers Guild of America Strike Officially Ends After 148 Days Transcript
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The Writers Guild of America strike has officially ended after union council members unanimously voted to return to work amid negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. Read the transcript here.

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Speaker 1 (00:00):

Over in Hollywood, the writers’ strike is officially finished. As of midnight, writers were free to return to work after the Writer’s Union’s leadership agreed to a three-year deal with major movie studios. The agreement which still needs to be ratified by the union’s 11,500 members, would increase residuals for streaming content, boost pay by up to 5%, and raise health and pension contributions. It also includes specific guidelines for safeguards over the use of artificial intelligence.

For more, let’s bring in entertainment journalist Brian Balthazar. Brian, good to have you with us. So the union says workers can now go back to work. What stands out in this deal? Does it seem like it’s a good result for both sides?

Speaker 2 (00:38):

It’s a good result for the union particularly, the studios are probably going to feel a little bit of a sting when you look at the numbers. This deal has about 233 million in enhancements for the union, and the offer from the studios was about 86 million. So that’s nearly three times, but there are some compromises in there. But of course, the basic pay increases. The increases in staffing levels. I think most interesting is the streaming residuals part of this deal.

There’s a bonus now built in, and this has been the wild wild west. How do we measure success for streamers? What they’ve done here is they’ve said they’ve built in a bonus if a streaming title does well within 90 days of release and is viewed by at least 20% of the subscriber base. So you can see it gets really nitty gritty, right? But this is a bonus that didn’t even exist before.

And then of course, there’s a near 76% increase in residuals for foreign-streamed titles. So things that are streamed overseas, I should say. So the streaming bonuses, the streaming residuals is a big deal.

And then of course the AI protections are very interesting, saying that the studios have to be upfront. They cannot force writers to use AI. They cannot use AI for source material. But a writer can choose to use AI if they’re allowed to. So there’s going to be… You can see that this is language that we’re just kind of learning how to kind of balance and monitor, and we’re seeing how it’s going, but there are definitely some great protections in there.

Speaker 1 (01:58):

Yeah, it’s such a great point. Two of these major issues are issues they never had to deal with before. So they’re in many ways starting from scratch trying to hash these things out. So Brian, what happens next? Is it just a formality for the 11,000 plus members to follow their leaders and ratify the deal?

Speaker 2 (02:12):

Well, given the enthusiasm from both coasts, I think it is pretty much a certainty that it will go through. But the voting begins on the second, on Monday, and will continue through the ninth. And members of the union have an opportunity to ask questions and hold meetings, but they have the information now. They can see the increases as well as a desire to get back to work. So I think we’ll see this go through.

Speaker 1 (02:34):

I think we’ll see some talk shows back on the air perhaps as early as next week or certainly in the next couple of weeks.

So Brian, we still know actors are striking, where do things stand there? Could this deal with the writers maybe clear the way for actors to reach a deal, say before year’s end?

Speaker 2 (02:49):

Right. Well, as you say, talk shows are coming back, but they’ll be missing actors to promote their projects. Bill Maher starting on Friday, and Kelly Clarkson had some of her crew there yesterday.

The actors, yeah, that still has to be worked out. I think we’re going to see a lot of production wait until January because we see the holidays coming up. So we already see a real urgency to get the actors strike worked out. And I think the union, SAG-AFTRA, is going to be looking to see if the studios will come back to the table as soon as possible.

Speaker 1 (03:15):

Until then, I hope you like cooking segments on those talk shows. All right, Brian, as always, thank you so much, appreciate it.

Speaker 2 (03:22):

Thank you.

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