Hollywood screenwriters go on strike over pay; Late night shows to go dark

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Hollywood screenwriters go on strike over pay; Late night shows to go dark

Thousands of Hollywood TV and movie screenwriters have downed tools after last minute talks with major studios over wages broke down.

A Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike, the first in 15 years, saw more than 9,000 writers – 98% of voting members – walk out from midnight.

Late-night live chat shows are expected shut down first, while forthcoming shows and films could face delays.

Picketing will begin on Tuesday afternoon, the Guild also said.

In 2007, writers went on strike for 100 days, at a cost of around $2bn to the industry.

This time around, writers are clashing with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) – which represents the major studios, including Disney and Netflix – in demand of higher pay and a greater share of the profits from the modern streaming boom.

On Monday evening, the WGA said the decision to strike was made after six weeks of negotiations produced a “wholly insufficient” response to “the existential crisis writers are facing”.

Key issues in the talks have been how writers get paid for shows which often remain on streaming platforms for years, as well as the future impact of artificial intelligence on writing.

The AMPTP said it had offered a “comprehensive package proposal” including higher pay for writers.

But it was unwilling to improve that offer further “because of the magnitude of other proposals still on the table that the Guild continues to insist upon.”

The Late Show’s Stephen Colbert, who taped the show before negotiations halted, shared an image of his writers and expressed his support for them in his opening monologue on Monday evening.

On Sunday evening, the Deadline Hollywood outlet reported that production on late-night shows including The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel Live! and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (pictured above) will all come to a halt.

Arriving at Monday night’s, Fallon said he hoped the strike would not go ahead, but at the same time wanted to see “a fair deal” agreed for writers. “I need my writers real bad, I got no show without my writers”.

Late Night host Seth Meyers expressed his support for the strike on the corrections segment of his show on Friday.

“I also feel very strongly that what the writers are asking for is not unreasonable,” Meyers said. “As a proud member of the Guild, I’m very grateful that there is an organisation that looks out for the best interests of writers.”

The WGA has criticised studios for creating a “gig economy” that aims to turn writing into an “entirely freelance” profession. “For the sake of our present and our future, we have been given no other choice,’ the guild stated in a lengthy document.

It called for a TV staffing minimum, ranging from six to 12 writers per show, as well as a guaranteed minimum number of weeks of employment per season.

In their own statement on Tuesday, the AMPTP called those the two “primary sticking points”.