Progress in negotiations on the Hollywood writers’ strike, but still no agreement | ET REALITY


The third straight day of marathon negotiations between Hollywood studios and striking screenwriters ended Friday night without an agreement. But the sides made substantial progress, according to three people briefed on the talks.

The parties met again on Saturday.

Friday’s session began at 11 a.m. Pacific time at the suburban Los Angeles headquarters of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which negotiates on behalf of major entertainment companies. For the third day in a row, several Hollywood moguls participated directly in the negotiations, which ended shortly after 8:00 p.m.

Robert A. Iger, CEO of Disney; Donna Langley, chief content officer of NBCUniversal’s Universal Pictures; Ted Sarandos, co-CEO of Netflix; and David Zaslav, CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, had previously delegated negotiating with the union to others. Their direct involvement, which many writers and some analysts said was long overdue, contributed to significant progress in recent days, according to people familiar with the talks, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the diplomatic nature of the efforts. .

During Thursday’s negotiations, the sides had narrowed their differences, for example over the issue of minimum staffing for TV show writers’ rooms, a point the studios were unwilling to address before The union will call a strike at the beginning of May.

However, Thursday’s session took a turn after the sides agreed to take a brief break at about 5 p.m., according to people familiar with the talks. The firm’s executives and labor lawyers were waiting for union negotiators to return to discuss points they had been working on previously. Instead, the guild made additional requests, one of which was that the writers’ return to work be tied to a resolution of the actors’ strike.

The actors union, known as SAG-AFTRA, joined the writers on the picket lines on July 14. Their demands exceed those of the Writers Guild. Among other things, the actors want 2 percent of the total revenue generated by streaming shows, something studios have said is impossible.

Several hours after talks ended Thursday night, the guild sent an email to its members saying the sides would meet on Friday.

“Your negotiating committee appreciates all the messages of solidarity and support we have received in recent days, and asks as many of you as possible to come to the picket line tomorrow,” the email said.

The union extended picketing hours on Friday until 2:00 p.m. Pickets normally end at noon.

In Los Angeles, several hundred writers demonstrated in front of the arched door of Paramount Pictures, many more than in recent weeks. The Writers Guild and SAG-AFTRA have been holding themed pickets to keep members interested, and Friday’s theme happened to be “puppet day,” meaning that in addition to picket signs, some protesters were carrying felt puppets and marionettes. The atmosphere was optimistic.

Outside the Netflix offices in Hollywood on Friday afternoon, even writers’ picketing began. offering farewell speeches, delivered via megaphone. On the CBS lot in Studio City, the theme was “silent disco,” with several hundred writers dancing and picketing with headphones.

Talks were mostly back on track when the picketing ended Friday, according to two of the people familiar with the matter. On the sensitive issue of minimum staffing for television shows, the parties were discussing a proposal in which at least four writers would be hired regardless of the number of episodes or whether a showrunner felt the job could be done with less. . (Earlier in the week, studios were pushing for a rolling number based on the number of episodes.)

They were also discussing a plan in which writers would for the first time receive payments from streaming services, in addition to other fees, based on a percentage of active subscribers. The guild had originally asked entertainment companies to establish a viewership-based royalty payment (known in Hollywood as a residual) to “reward shows with the highest ratings.”

The writers have been on strike for 144 days. The longest writers’ strike was 153 days in 1988.

“Thank you for the wonderful show of support on the picket lines today!” the guild’s bargaining committee said in an email to members Friday night. “It means a lot to us as we continue to work toward a deal the writers deserve.”

Nicole Sperling contributed with reports.

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