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Hollywood Studios Reportedly Intend To Let The WGA Strike Drag On Until Writers "Start Losing Their Apartments And Losing Their Houses"

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Well isn't that lovely. The fat-cat studio executives who drive many of the creatively-bankrupt decisions that have the entertainment industry in an upheaval in the first place and have made working conditions for writers shitty as hell are just going to let them bleed out as long as possible.

Classic cutthroat myopia from the studios and streamers here, not to mention a lack of humanity. I don't know...maybe fairly compensate writers? Is that such a hard concept for these out-of-touch old heads to wrap their brains around? Seems so. The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) don't care if the actors' strike happens — the deadline for that not to happen is tonight — they'd rather maintain the status quo of bullshit than cave to the demands of poverty writers. That's the stance they're projecting.

Won't be a total shock when studios and streamers start pumping out projects with fully AI scripts. Punch it all into an algorithm and only care about profit. Good luck with that! As if COVID didn't depress the entertainment industry enough and push back myriad big-time TV and movie releases. This shit show now threatens to halt production on countless projects, create even more delays, put the moviegoing experience in more significant jeopardy and alienate the artists who catalyze all these amazing stories in the first place.

Instead of reading me babble on about all this, how about I hand it to an on-strike screenwriter, whose thread about this Deadline report is blowing up the Twittersphere (won't feature the whole thread but the most key parts):

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...Yeah you might think my language is a little extreme at the top of this blog about fairly compensating writers. Look at the how small the cut is that they're asking for in the grand scheme of things. It's absurd.

Now having said that, I will push back on one element to all this. Considering that Deadline led their article with a cartoonish depiction of a TV/movie executive smoking a cigar as a caricature-ish status symbol, I don't know that one of the premier trade publications is necessarily an unmitigated mouthpiece for the AMPTP. I think that's a little extreme to paint it that way, yet I get why working movie/TV writers would feel that type of way. Here's a key excerpt toward the end of Deadline's piece:

"As pickets went up and productions shut down in the strike’s early weeks, studio bosses almost uniformly offered banal praise to the writers but no public proposals to get the them back to work. In the meantime, as network schedules shift to unscripted shows and streamers buy up foreign content, the studios and streamers have been saving money on shuttered productions and cost-cutting.

"On a parallel track and reinforcing the AMPTP’s divide-and-conquer approach, negotiations with the Director’s Guild in late May proved a success, with ratification coming last month. Even if the 160,000-member SAG-AFTRA joins the WGA on the picket lines, the studios hope to get the actors back to the negotiating table in a few weeks.

"A new SAG-AFTRA deal would not see production restart, but it could allow actors to promote projects already set for release. A move that studios hope would further the WGA going into the latter part of the year."

Here's another perspective on the developing saga and how Deadline reported on it, courtesy of blockbuster screenwriter Zack Stentz:

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I just hope the writers get fairly compensated in the end. On the current course we're on with allegedly risk-averse IPs that either get bogged down by impossible deadlines and/or massive budgets, which results in massive losses for studios/streamers, maybe we'll enter another golden age of movies/TV where more original story ideas emerge. Where working conditions improve for all and thus creativity and inspiration flourishes. 

Not that the bottom-line resolution to this ugly conflict has to be some pie-in-the-sky utopia. Again, I feel like the writers' demands are well within reason. We can only hope that the cold studios and streamers come around instead of continuing to condescend, belittle and undermine the people they should be supporting the most like they so often do.

Twitter @MattFitz_gerald/TikTok

For more on the writers' strike, here's a blog from a while back when the stoppage first happened. It doesn't touch as much on the AI issue I raise earlier in this blog but did my best to contextualize everything.