Hollywood writers go on strike, late night shows go dark
Screenwriters from Hollywood have gone on strike over declining pay within the streaming industry, with over 11,500 writers represented by the Writers Guild of America participating. Late-night TV shows have suffered the most, as they rely heavily on these writers to pen monologues and jokes for their guests. Big name shows such as Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Late Show, and Late Night, among others, have already put reruns on the schedule. This is not the first time that Hollywood writers’ strikes have been seen; the last one was in 2007 where it lasted for 100 days.
The impact of this latest strike could have a ripple effect on TV and film productions, depending on how long it lasts. Streaming services, in particular, are under immense pressure to show profits, putting added emphasis on the successful resolution of this dispute. Meanwhile, late-night shows are hoping that the strike will be resolved quickly so they can get back to full production.
In addition to demanding higher minimum wages, the writers’ guild is also advocating for less scarcity around writing rooms, shorter exclusive contracts, and a revamp of residual pay. This strike comes hot on the heels of a massive content boom driven by streaming, which has expanded the need for more writers; however, they claim that their pay is not keeping pace with this boom.
About half of all writers receive minimum rates, which have only increased by 16% over the past decade. This pay issue is due in part to historic backend payments such as syndication and international licensing being phased out. This has left many writers agitating for higher fees upfront to compensate for the lack of future returns.
While late-night shows have already felt the impact of the strikes, studios are also concerned about the knock-on effect on TV series and movies produced in the coming months. Many studios and production companies are cutting back on spending, which may impact the quality of content if rewrites are not available. Movies, in particular, could take longer to hit the big screen, and a prolonged strike could majorly disrupt Fall TV schedules.
As streaming continues to disrupt the traditional Hollywood business model, the writers’ strike may be just the beginning. The Directors Guild of America (DGA) and SAG-AFTRA, the actors’ union, both have contracts that expire in June, and similar issues with the streaming business model will likely arise in those bargaining sessions. Meanwhile, the Writers Guild of America is standing its ground, with 98% of voters supporting the strike. Negotiations are ongoing, and it remains to be seen what effect this will have on Hollywood’s screenwriters.
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