The Writers Guild of America and Hollywood’s major studios will meet for a third day of bargaining Friday as Hollywood wrestles with growing hopes of a deal balanced with concerns that key issues in the nearly five-month strike battle remain in contention.
“The WGA and [Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers] met for bargaining today and will meet again tomorrow,” the WGA said in a negotiations update message sent to members late Thursday. “Your Negotiating Committee appreciates all the messages of solidarity and support we have received the last few days, and ask as many of you as possible to come out to the picket lines tomorrow.”
The WGA has been out since May 2. Industry hopes for resolution to the strike that is close to surpassing the guild’s longest-ever work stoppage soared on Thursday as rumors throughout the creative community that a deal between studios and scribes was coming as soon as early evening. In reality, sources close to the situation say significant issues and deal points remain on the table. In short, the guild has yet to indicate that the elements under discussion as of Wednesday are sufficient to close the deal and end the walkout that is heading into Day 144 on Friday.
Optimism about a settlement coming together was stoked by the presence of CEOs and senior leaders of four of Hollywood’s largest employers: Disney (Bob Iger), Netflix (Ted Sarandos), NBCUniversal (Donna Langley) and Warner Bros. Discovery (David Zaslav). Sources indicated that the participation of executives seemed to accelerate the back-and-forth between management and labor on solutions to the most divisive contract points. It’s believed that the sides have moved toward a compromise on the WGA’s demand for a new minimum staffing formula to be implemented for writers on episodic TV programs.
Other issues discussed Thursday include the complicated problem of regulating the use of generative artificial intelligence in writing for screen, as well as the WGA’s push to add into the master film and TV contract the right for its members to honor strikes and picket lines of other unions.
The WGA and AMPTP resumed negotiations on Sept. 20 for the first time in nearly a month. The executive leaders hoped to signal their commitment to making a deal by showing up in person. On Thursday evening, multiple sources said a bit of last-minute static emerged over what the management side viewed as new deal points raised by the WGA, which kept the CEOs in the room longer than expected, until about 7:30 p.m.
Plans for a third day of talks were firmed up shortly before the WGA sent its message to members at 9:45 p.m. PT. It’s unclear if the CEOs will return to AMPTP headquarters in Sherman Oaks for a third day of bargaining.
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