It’s not often that the hosts of late-night shows like Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, and Seth Meyers are caught off guard and unable to entertain their audiences. But that’s exactly what’s happening as members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) initiate a strike, leading to the cessation of production on Tuesday.
The WGA members voted overwhelmingly earlier this year to authorize a strike if the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) did not approve a new contract with increased minimum compensation and larger contributions to pension and health plans. Six weeks of negotiations with firms such as Netflix, Amazon, Sony, and Disney under the AMPTP umbrella, they failed to produce a new contract, leading to the current strike.
Union members are now prohibited from working on their shows, leading to the cancellation of appearances by celebrities like Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Chita Rivera, Jennifer Lopez, and JJ Watt. Instead, the shows are expected to air reruns, much to the disappointment of their audiences.
The strike is supported by Seth Meyers, who expressed his support on his Monday show, saying he wants his writers to receive higher pay. He stated, “No one is entitled to a job in show business. But for those people who have a job, they are entitled to fair compensation. They are entitled to make a living. I think it’s a very reasonable demand that’s being set out by the Guild. And I support those demands.”
The strike also impacts production for shows such as “Real Time With Bill Maher,” “Saturday Night Live,” and “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver,” according to a WGA memo recently obtained by The Los Angeles Times. Production delays could inhibit the ability of Disney, Paramount Global, and Comcast NBCUniversal to produce episodes for the fall network television season while streaming platforms carrying broadcast shows would likewise be impacted.
WGA officials cite the advent of artificial intelligence as a possible mechanism to increase work capacity for screenwriters, a phenomenon that could enable studios to decrease their headcounts and thereby provoke calls from the union to regulate material produced with the technology. The union previously said that firms have “used the transition to streaming to cut writer pay and separate writing from production, worsening working conditions for series writers at all levels.” The share of writers working at the minimum standards established by the most recent WGA contract has risen substantially in recent years, producing a 23% median compensation decline when adjusted for inflation, even as series budgets increase.
The writers strike picket line outside of Warner Bros. in Los Angeles. https://t.co/2mx1TyHf1T pic.twitter.com/sBeOvNcPBZ
— Variety (@Variety) May 2, 2023
The strike occurs as the shift toward streaming contributes to diminished profits in television and cinema. Hollywood will feel the strike’s impact far and wide, with late-night shows going dark and other productions expected to follow suit. Let’s hope that the WGA and AMPTP can agree soon so that our favorite shows can return to our screens.