If prolonged could cost city billions of dollars
For the first time in 15 years, entertainment industry writers are on strike this week as their union remained at an impasse with Hollywood studios over a host of labor issues, most notably residuals for streaming content, staffing levels in writing rooms and the use of artificial Intelligence.
The leaders of the Writers Guild of America’s (WGA) West Coast and East Coast branches announced Monday night that contract talks had again broken down, and the union officially went on strike when its contract expired at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.
Picketing is underway outside numerous studios, including Amazon’s in Culver City, CBS’ Studio City lot, Television City, The Walt Disney Co.’s corporate headquarters in Burbank, the Fox Studio Lot, Netflix’s Hollywood headquarters, Paramount Studios in Hollywood, Sony Studios in Culver City, Universal Studios and Warner Bros. in Burbank.
The strike will disrupt work on hundreds of movies, scripted television series, late-night talk shows and streaming productions. The late-night talk shows are likely to feel the most immediate impact, with shows such as “Jimmy Kimmel Live,’’ which is shot in Hollywood, expected to go dark, along with programs including “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,’’ “Late Night with Seth Meyers’’ and “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.’’ NBC’s “Saturday Night Live’’ could also quickly fall victim to the strike.
Among the issues on the bargaining table, the WGA is pushing for increases in pay and residuals, particularly over streaming content. The guild is specifically calling for higher residual pay for streaming programs that have higher viewership, rather than the existing model that pays a standard rate regardless of a show’s success.
The WGA last went on strike in 2007-08, remaining off the job for 100 days and grinding Hollywood production to a halt. That strike was precipitated over compensation for what was then termed “new media,’’ with Internet streaming beginning to reshape the entertainment landscape. Various estimates from different organizations estimated that the 100-day strike cost the local economy between $2 billion and $3 billion.
Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, whose city would likely feel the brunt of that economic fallout, issued a statement that avoided taking sides in the dispute, but urges a swift and equitable resolution.
“Los Angeles relies on a strong entertainment industry that is the envy of the world while putting Angelenos to work in good, middle-class jobs,’’ said Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass. “I encourage all sides to come together around an agreement that protects our signature industry and the families it supports.’’
Several other elected officials threw their support behind the striking writers.
“The WGA fight for better pay and wage protections in the era of streaming content is vital to ensuring the livelihood of those who make the entertainment industry such a creative powerhouse,’’ Rep. Adam Schiff (CA-30) said in a statement. “I stand with those striking and urge both sides to swiftly come to a deal that supports good worker salaries and keeps our favorite TV and movie productions afloat.’’
Los Angeles City Councilman Bob Blumenfield wrote on his Twitter page, “What writers are asking for is beyond reasonable. There’s no entertainment industry without writers and they deserve to be fairly compensated and have more workplace protections. Striking is never easy and I proudly stand with (WGA). See you on a picket line soon.’’
Councilwoman Katy Yaroslavsky added, “WGA members deserve a fair contract. I urge studio executives to go back to the bargaining table and pay writers the wages they deserve.’’