A hotly anticipated meeting Friday between the Writers Guild of America and negotiators for Hollywood’s biggest studios ended not with a bang but with a whimper, it appears, as both sides confirm that the three-month-long standoff between screenwriters and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers is set to continue, as will the strike that’s left the entertainment industry at a standstill.
Friday’s meeting, the first between the WGA and the AMPTP since contract negotiations stalled in May, had been greeted with high hopes when it was announced earlier this week. The New York Times reported that conditions for an end to the writers’ strike seemed promising, as a back-channel meeting last week between a “handful of executives” and “three members of the guild’s negotiating committee” led execs to believe that “there could be a path to a deal.”
Following that shadowy meeting, AMPTP president Carol Lombardini reached out to WGA leaders to schedule Friday’s official confab, but even as that news broke, the WGA remained cautious. In a message to members Thursday, the WGA’s negotiating committee said that “we won’t prejudge what’s to come, but playbooks die hard. So far, the companies have wasted months on their same failed strategy. They have attempted, time and time again, through anonymous quotes in the media, to use scare tactics, rumors, and lies to weaken our resolve.”
Variety reports that the two sides met Friday for about an hour, but that after the WGA stood firm on its expectations regarding “minimum staffing levels in episodic TV and a guaranteed minimum number of weeks of employment,” the conversation fizzled.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the WGA says that while the AMPTP “is willing to increase their offer on a few writer-specific TV minimums—and [is] willing to talk about AI,” they “did not indicate willingness” to discuss other issues that have been at stake, including success-based residual payments and other points. (The AMPTP has not issued an official statement on the meeting as of publication time.)
Despite the lack of movement, LA Mayor Karen Bass, who issued a statement Friday offering to “personally engage” with both sides to bring the strike to an end, described the news coming out of the meeting as “an encouraging development,” the LA Times reports. “It is critical that this gets resolved immediately so that Los Angeles gets back on track,” Bass said.
An unnamed studio-side source who spoke with the Hollywood Reporter says that though little progress was made during the meeting, they believe the door has been opened to further conversations. “I anticipate we’ll be back at the table in a week, but we’re not there yet on either side,” they said.
But even if the two sides did reach an agreement at that next, still speculative meeting, that doesn’t mean that Hollywood productions would immediately resume. After all, the concurrent SAG-AFTRA strike, which kicked off last month, means that actors have also stopped work, and conversations between those groups have also stalled. “We have not heard from the AMPTP since July 12 when they told us they would not be willing to continue talks for quite some time,” National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland told Deadline this week.
Not only does the ongoing actors strike means that the work in front of the camera isn’t happening, but as an act of union solidarity, writers will not cross the SAG-AFTRA picket line to return to work, even if a deal is reached, Variety reports. That means that until both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA come to agreements with the AMPTP, Hollywood will remain closed for business.
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