Good news for Hollywood: It appeared late Monday that there wouldn’t be a writers strike. As both Writers Guild negotiators and reps from the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers continued talking late into the night, reports began to emerge that both sides had zeroed in on a tentative new deal.
That means it will be business as (mostly) usual on Tuesday, with scribes reporting to work and productions continuing without interruption. Ten years after a 100-day strike crippled Hollywood, the speculation was met overnight on social media mostly with a sigh of relief.
The official word came down at around 1:30 a.m. PT via a brief, joint statement: “The Writers Guilds of America, West and East and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have concluded negotiations and have reached a tentative agreement on terms for a new three-year collective bargaining agreement.”
Details of the deal were sketchy in the early hours of Tuesday morning, with more info expected to come out in the coming days. The previous Minimum Basic Agreement for writers expired at midnight at the end of May 1, and at that point the WGA negotiators had the authorization to call a strike. But talks had progressed to a point where it didn’t seem prudent for a work stoppage just yet.
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With negotiations ongoing right up until (and past) the Monday deadline, the WGA’s negotiating committee still held on to the leverage of being able to call a strike at any time. But with talks progressing past midnight deadline and no imminent call for a strike, it became apparent that both sides were closing in on a deal. Now, the Writers Guild of America on both coasts must approve and ratify the new 3-year contract.
The negotiations between the AMPTP and WGA centered on increasing contributions to the Writers Guild healthcare plan, which is dangerously close to becoming insolvent. Also, Variety reported that sticking points included “the issue of parity for script fees and scale payments across broadcast, cable and SVOD outlets and whether executive producers should receive extra compensation for working longer than two weeks per episode on short-order series.”
Per Variety, “the AMPTP has proposed a short-order formula that narrowly targets lower- and middle-run writer positions in an effort to address the drop in income that writers are facing with the industry’s migration to series that run 6-13 episodes per season instead of the traditional broadcast standard of 22-24 episodes per season.”
A writers strike would have had an immediate impact on late night talk shows and topical series like “Saturday Night Live,” and also shut down TV writers rooms. The broadcast networks’ TV season is about to end, so those outlets wouldn’t see an immediate impact in primetime, but a strike might have been an embarrassing distraction as executives announce their new schedules to advertisers the week of May 15. It was also unclear if a strike would disrupt current Emmy “For Your Consideration” campaigns, which often require the participation of showrunners.
The uncertainty of a potential strike kept many writers up late on Monday, refreshing social media and waiting for updates on where things stood:
Right now I am so this baby elephant. pic.twitter.com/M7EQI5fJvj
— Jill Weinberger (@jillybobww) May 2, 2017
#WGAUnity United We Wait.
— Warren Leight (@warrenleightTV) May 2, 2017
— Issa Rae (@IssaRae) May 2, 2017
I’m going to bed because I either have a show to run in the morning or a 10:50am showing of that movie where Katherine Heigl masturbates.
— Stephen Falk (@stephenfalk) May 2, 2017
I want to go to work tomorrow. But I also want writers to go to work twenty years from tomorrow. #wgaunity
— josh friedman (@Josh_Friedman) May 2, 2017