Wednesday, July 24, 2024

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    Hollywood’s Post-Strike Reckoning: The Resurgence of TV Writers and Their Deals

    Warner Bros. Television and Other Studios Lift Suspensions as Writers Return, but Questions Linger

    In a pivotal development on Thursday, Warner Bros. Television, among other major studios, commenced the process of revoking the suspensions imposed on esteemed showrunners like Greg Berlanti and J.J. Abrams, who were among the scores affected during the protracted five-month strike led by the Writers Guild of America (WGA). The move comes in the wake of the strike’s official conclusion, though several letters to restore deals are still in transit to other writers within the Channing Dungey-led studio’s talented pool. Simultaneously, sources reveal that several other studios have already initiated the process of lifting their suspensions, with this endeavor expected to persist well into the early days of the upcoming week.

    However, as Hollywood’s TV writers prepare to re-enter the fray following the WGA’s second-longest strike in history, a significant question looms large: Will these deals be extended to compensate for the duration of their suspension? Insights suggest that many top-tier producers, such as Berlanti and Abrams, possess contracts fortified with clauses that automatically extend the terms of their deals to account for the time lost due to suspension. Conversely, not all contracts include such safeguards. This situation potentially places both writers and studios in a precarious position. For instance, if a deal reached its expiration date during the summer, studios could opt not to add the months lost during the strike, effectively rendering the agreement expired and the time – along with the financial remuneration – irretrievably lost.

    Nevertheless, it is imperative to underscore that the WGA strike, spanning a grueling 148 days, did not witness the outright cancellation of any overall or first-look deals, as of the latest update, through the invocation of force majeure clauses that grant studios and streaming platforms such an authority. As reported earlier this month by MegaloPreneur Fashion Magazine, multiple industry sources confirmed that their deal portfolios had already undergone pruning prior to the strike, and the majority of the overall deals that persisted were those avidly pursued in the highly competitive market. Consequently, these entities remain eager to sustain these associations now that the writers’ strike has concluded.

    Optics and pragmatism further contribute to the situation. Studios now appear more inclined to allow unwanted deals to naturally expire, rather than taking active measures to terminate them, as executives have previously expressed to THR.

    The initial wave of deal suspensions hit in the spring, shortly after the strike’s commencement in May. This initial wave encompassed the bulk of pure writer contracts and most major overall deals, featuring luminaries such as Mike Schur and Sam Esmail at NBCUniversal and Chuck Lorre and John Wells at Warner Bros. On September 6, Warner Bros. suspended the remaining portion of its roster, including figures like Berlanti, Bill Lawrence, and Mindy Kaling, with the exception of three individuals engaged in postproduction work. While these individuals were not actively writing, their contractual obligations required them to continue their roles as producers.

    These suspensions were a strategic cost-cutting maneuver implemented by studios and streaming services during the labor stoppage. With the WGA strike now consigned to history, the race to reinstate deals and reinvigorate scripted series and film production commences, even as the actors’ union, SAG-AFTRA, continues its own strike.

    This post-strike era heralds a new chapter for Hollywood’s creative forces, as the industry seeks to restore equilibrium and resume the production of compelling content that captivates audiences worldwide.

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