Writers' guild leaders to meet on Hollywood studio offer
LOS ANGELES, Sept 27, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - Leaders of the Writers Guild of America will meet Tuesday to decide whether to accept a pay deal hammered out with production studios, and could agree to halt a months-long strike that has paralyzed Hollywood.
The WGA board is also expected to set a timeline for putting the proposal to the union's 11,500 members, who have the final say on whether or not to accept what is on offer.
A board vote in favor of the deal could pave the way for work on stymied TV and film projects to restart, with late-night talk shows expected to get back on air sometime next month.
"This would allow writers to return to work during the ratification vote, but would not affect the membership's right to make a final determination on contract approval," the WGA's negotiating committee told members Sunday when they announced a tentative agreement.
"To be clear, no one is to return to work until specifically authorized to by the guild. We are still on strike until then. But we are, as of today, suspending WGA picketing."
Thousands of film and television scribes downed their pens in early May over demands including better pay, greater rewards for creating hit shows, and protection from artificial intelligence.
They have manned picket lines for months outside offices including Netflix and Disney, and were joined by striking actors in mid-July, leaving normally busy Hollywood lots all but vacant in a dramatic show of force.
Five days of intensive talks between the guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the studios, culminated Sunday.
No details of the agreement have been released yet, but industry watchers expect it will be welcomed by the membership.
"We can say, with great pride, that this deal is exceptional -- with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership," the guild said Sunday.
WGA member Cylin Busby said while she didn't know the details of the deal, she was optimistic.
"The messaging that we're getting from our union is so positive that I would be shocked if it's not a really good deal for the writers," she told AFP on Tuesday.
"As soon as we signed the deal, I'm ready to get back to work.
Even if the deal is approved, Hollywood will remain a long way from normal service, with actors -- represented by the SAG-AFTRA union -- still refusing to work.
A resolution to that stoppage is expected to take a minimum of several more weeks.
With hundreds of film and television shoots backed up, it could still then take months for Hollywood to clear the logistical logjam and get fully back to work.
Actors were on the picket lines Tuesday outside Netflix, being joined by members of the WGA who were there in support.
"Our strike is over. But the battle goes on until the actors get their deal," said WGA member Vinnie Wilhelm.
"We would not have gotten the deal that we have gotten if it weren't for the support of the actors."