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How Donald Trump Impacted The Writers Guild Negotiations — And Helped Them Get a Better Deal

At the ATX Television Festival, writers note that they felt emboldened to take on the studios in the wake of Trump.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump


Donald Trump inadvertently got Hollywood writers an improved contract this year.

It sure wasn’t through anything he actually did on behalf of TV and feature scribes. But the resistance that began to pop up after Trump’s election inspired writers to demand a better deal from the studios, according to several showrunners on Friday at the ATX Television Festival.

Gathered on stage to discuss how Trump is impacting the world of storytelling, Beau Willimon (“House of Cards,” “The First”) mentioned his role on the Writers Guild of America negotiation committee, and how members became more motivated post-Trump.

READ MORE: Writers Strike Averted: Tentative New Deal with Producers Sealed Late Monday Night

“A lot of our meetings [discussions] were very much in the context of a Trump America,” Willimon said. “The sense that as organized labor, there was a political moment here. That the only way that things happen politically is when you stand up for yourself. It is not a time in our nation’s history to sit down be quiet and hope for the best.”

As a result, Willimon said conversations among writers inside the union were very different than in years past.

“There’s a charged political consciousness among screenwriters and TV writers that we’ll see percolating in everything we watch,” he said.

Javier Grillo-Marxuach (“The Middleman,” “The Dark Crystal”) said he believed that there was “definitively a correlation between the quality of the deal we got from management and the election of Donald Trump. Because you went to those meetings and it was like, this was a thing that we as writers could make happen immediately.

READ MORE: WGA Strike: Why This Time the Writers, Netflix, and the Public May Have the Upper Hand

“A lot of that displaced anger led to us being able to say authorize a strike vote by 96%,” he added. “I think people were looking for somebody to stick it to who had been sticking it to us. The militancy that the guild showed in this negotiation was influenced by that and I think that will also show up on TV screens at some point.”

Both Writers Guild negotiators and reps from the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers hammered out a new deal at the last minute on May 2, moments before a strike was to have been called. The new three-year deal for film and TV writers was ratified later that month.

The ATX TV Festival runs June 8 – 11 in Austin, Texas. IndieWire will be on the ground throughout, so check back for more coverage this weekend.

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