The 146-day strike by the Writers Guild of America seems to be coming to a logical conclusion. After five days of negotiations with the studios, the union said some sort of "exclusive" deal had been reached. Let's try to figure out what agreements the Alliance and the Guild came to.
The Writers Guild of America (WGA) announced on the evening of September 24 that it is ready to end its nearly five-month strike after reaching a preliminary agreement with the studio alliance, streaming services and production companies. The union's demands include higher wages, payments from streaming services and protection of jobs from the use of artificial intelligence. The deal will first be submitted for a vote to the Guild's negotiating committee, then for approval by the WGA West and WGA East councils. Both hearings are tentatively scheduled for September 26. “If all goes smoothly, the council will also vote on whether to end the strike,” the negotiating committee said.
Major studios have made their "best and last" offer to striking writers, a person close to the situation told CNN.
"The fact that they talk for three days straight is amazing," showrunner Marc Guggenheim told The Hollywood Reporter.
Terms of the deal were not announced, but the WGA said in an email the benefits of the agreement: "significant benefits and protections for writers in all sectors."
The Writers Guild of America posted on X (Twitter): “WGA and AMPTP have reached a tentative agreement. What we have won in this contract is due to our willingness to demonstrate our solidarity, to walk side by side, to endure the pain and uncertainty of the last 146 days. More detailed information will appear once the text of the contract is finalized.”
Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos and NBC Universal Studio Group Chairman Donna Langley joined the talks this week, helping break a months-long impasse.
According to the Associated Press, as a result of the agreement, late-night shows including “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” could return to the airwaves within days. The statement said: The Guild continues to "call on studio and streaming platform CEOs, as well as the Producers Alliance, to return to the table and negotiate the fair deal our members deserve and demand."
Why did the strike happen? Many successful, award-winning writers say they have found themselves unable to make a living in the current climate. The rise of original content on streaming services has resulted in meager revenues. Platforms tend to offer shorter seasons, reducing the amount of work available for writers.
"It was a fight for respect," admitted actor Michael O'Keefe, who said he hoped the deal would herald "a new era in Hollywood."
Reuters earlier reported that Disney had created a commission to study the use of artificial intelligence in the industry. The Walt Disney Company Chairman Bob Iger criticized the striking writers and actors, arguing that their demands are “simply unrealistic.” He subsequently issued a conciliatory statement, citing his "deep respect" for professionals. According to Variety, language about “the use of artificial intelligence in content production” was one of the main aspects of the new contract.
The current strike is the longest since 1988 and the first since 2007. The Screen Actors and Writers Guild of America last went on strike together in 1960. This time, the studios decided to deal with the WGA first.
California Governor Gavin Newsom supported the writers and acknowledged that the writers "went on strike due to threats to their careers and livelihoods." Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass hailed the tentative agreement as a "fair deal" and said she hoped the same would soon happen with SAG-AFTRA, citing the need to bring back the city's entertainment industry, which has plagued the city's economy. According to the governor, California's economy alone lost more than $5 billion due to Hollywood's closure.
Studios were also affected, The New York Times reported. This month, Warner Bros. Discovery admitted the twin strikes cut $500 million from its profits for the year.
However, when the WGA reaches a deal, the Hollywood machine will still not be able to start working again until the Alliance resolves its dispute with the Screen Actors Guild.