November 30, 2023


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Top studio executives join writers’ strike negotiations

Top studio executives join writers’ strike negotiations

Negotiations between the Hollywood Writers Guild and major entertainment companies resumed Wednesday after a month, with top executives joining the talks for the first time.

The day ended with the two sides issuing a statement saying they would meet again on Thursday, with senior executives expected to return. One person familiar with the discussions said the results were encouraging.

Those in attendance included Ted Sarandos, co-chairman of Netflix; David Zaslav, CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery; Donna Langley, Chief Content Officer, Universal Pictures; and Robert Iger, Disney’s CEO, according to three people familiar with the meeting, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the diplomatic nature of the negotiations.

Last month, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which negotiates on behalf of entertainment companies, softened its offer for a new three-year contract, publicly revealing the details. The choice to advertise the show angered the Writers Guild of America, which represents more than 11,000 television and film writers, and was one of the reasons for the recent impasse. Top executives like Mr. Zaslav and Mr. Iger met with union officials last month, but not in a formal bargaining session.

The writers initially refused to respond to the studios’ latest offer, but then reached out to the alliance last week to request a new meeting.

After 142 days, the strike is on track to become the longest writers’ strike ever. (The longest was 153 days in 1988.) The union argues that the era of live streaming has worsened its members’ wages and working conditions.

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The studios said they are offering the highest pay rise to writers in more than three decades, while also including protections against artificial intelligence.

The damage that the writers’ strike—along with the Hollywood actors’ strike, which began on July 14—inflicted on the industry and surrounding businesses was significant.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in an interview with CNN last week that he believes the dual strikes have already cost California’s economy as much as $5 billion.

Brooks Barnes And John Coplin Contributed to reports.