They’re writing picket signs, not scripts. The Writers Guild of America is officially on strike as of Tuesday, May 1, and Us Weekly is breaking down what that means for TV fans — and which shows are impacted.
What Is the Writers Guild of America?
The WGA is the union that represents most of the writers behind TV show and film scripts. Actors who are also writers, including Ted Lasso‘s Jason Sudeikis and Abbott Elementary‘s Quinta Brunson, are also included.
What Is the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers?
AMPTP is the trade association representing Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Disney, Discovery-Warner, NBC Universal, Paramount and Sony. The organization negotiates contracts with the WGA.
Why Is the Writer’s Strike Happening?
Negotiations broke down between the WGA and AMPTP for a new contract on May 1. Amid changes with shorter seasons and streaming platforms, writers want a contract that reflects the current media landscape.
In their letter to members announcing the strike, the WGA emphasized that they negotiated for “fair pay that reflects the value of our contribution to company success and includes protections to ensure that writing survives as a sustainable profession.”
They added: “The companies’ behavior has created a gig economy inside a union workforce, and their immovable stance in this negotiation has betrayed a commitment to further devaluing the profession of writing. From their refusal to guarantee any level of weekly employment in episodic television, to the creation of a ‘day rate’ in comedy variety, to their stonewalling on free work for screenwriters and on AI for all writers, they have closed the door on their labor force and opened the door to writing as an entirely freelance profession. No such deal could ever be contemplated by this membership.”
AMPTP feel they offered “generous” compensation. “Negotiations between the AMPTP and the WGA concluded without an agreement today,” the AMPTP said in a statement on Monday via Variety. “The AMPTP presented a comprehensive package proposal to the Guild last night which included generous increases in compensation for writers as well as improvements in streaming residuals. The AMPTP also indicated to the WGA that it is prepared to improve that offer, but was unwilling to do so because of the magnitude of other proposals still on the table that the Guild continues to insist upon. The primary sticking points are ‘mandatory staffing,’ and ‘duration of employment’ — Guild proposals that would require a company to staff a show with a certain number of writers for a specified period of time, whether needed or not.”
Has There Been a Writers Strike Before?
Yes, it lasted from November 5, 2007, to February 12, 2008.
Will TV Shows Stop Airing Amid the Writers Strike?
Scripted TV shows are filmed in advance, so fans won’t feel the impact immediately. Yellowjackets and Abbott Elementary have paused their writers rooms for season 3, but fans aren’t expecting to see those new episodes until at least fall. House of the Dragon writers finished season 2 scripts before shooting started last month.
However, late night shows are already on hiatus amid the strike. The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel Live! are all airing repeats. “I wouldn’t have a show if it wasn’t for my writers, I support them all the way,” Fallon told Variety while at the Met Gala.
Seth Meyers, meanwhile, warned his audience that they might not see Late Night for a while. “I’m good at one thing, which is writing, and I love writing so much. I am deeply proud of the fact that I get to be a professional writer,” Meyers shared on Friday, April 28. “I bring this up because, as of Monday at midnight, there might be a writers’ strike. And if a writers’ strike happens, that would shut down production on a great many shows.”
He continued, “I’m incredibly hopeful that they can come to an agreement. I also feel very strongly that what the writers are asking for is not unreasonable. And, as a proud member of the Guild, I’m very grateful that there is an organization that looks out for the best interests of writers. So if you don’t see me here next week, know that it is something that is not done lightly and that I will be heartbroken, too, and miss you, as well.”
Pete Davidson, meanwhile, lamented about how the strike would likely take Saturday Night Live off the air right as the former cast member was supposed to host for the first time. “It sucks because it just feeds my weird story I have in my head, like, of course that would happen to me,” the Bupkis star joked during his April 28 appearance on The Tonight Show.