Hollywood writers, producers reach deal; strike averted

Hollywood writers, producers reach deal; strike averted

LOS ANGELES — A tentative deal was reached between screenwriters and producers Tuesday, averting a strike that could have crippled TV and film production.

The three-year agreement, which requires ratification by members of the Writers Guild of America, was confirmed by the guild and producers’ spokesman Jarryd Gonzales shortly after the current contract expired early Tuesday. The deal came after a flurry of last-minute bargaining, conducted during a media blackout that offered no tangible details about whether picket lines would go up until after midnight Tuesday.

In a memo to its members, the guild said gains were made across the board, including contributions to the union’s health plan that should “ensure its solvency for years to come” — an issue that writers considered key.

The union said it also made strides in pay for series with fewer episodes per season, and in residuals. Members overall will net $130 million more over the contract’s life than they were expected to accept, according to the memo.

There were no details released by the producers early Tuesday.

The agreement spares the late-night shows that would immediately have gone dark without writers, and allows the networks to pursue their schedules for the upcoming TV season without interruption. Movie production would have felt a strike’s sting more gradually.

Guild members voted overwhelmingly last month to authorize a strike, and the WGA could have called for an immediate walkout Tuesday absent a deal. The previous writers’ strike extracted an estimated $2 billion toll on the state of California. The producers group said the 2007-08 strike cost writers $287 million in lost compensation.

Russ DeVol, the chief research officer at the Milken Institute, estimated a strike of similar duration would have cost California $2.5 billion today.

After the 2007-08 strike, the two sides reached agreements in 2010 and 2013, but TV writers in particular have seen their earnings slide since then and wanted to claw back some of those losses.

Driving the dispute were changes in how television is distributed, with streaming platforms including Netflix and Amazon joining broadcast and cable TV and rising in importance.

More outlets have led to more shows, but the TV season model is greatly changed. Despite the fact that there are more series than ever — 455 this season, more than double the number six years ago — shows run for fewer episodes than the traditional 22-24 episode broadcast series.

Short seasons of eight, 10 or 12 episodes means less pay for writers whose payment is structured on a per-episode basis.

To address that, the guild said it won additional compensation for writers who spend more than 2.4 weeks working on a script.

The guild also touted first-time job protection for writers on parental leave.

The agreement avoided a repeat of the 2007-08 strike, which played out in true Hollywood style. Writers took to social media to make their case, entertainingly. Stars including Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tina Fey joined picket lines, and then-“Tonight Show” host Jay Leno brought doughnuts for strikers.

Before Tuesday’s deal was announced, writer-actress Lena Dunham said she would back a strike this time.

“I would never have had the health coverage I had without the union, and that’s one of the main points in this,” Dunham said at the Met Gala in New York City on Monday night.

Actress Debra Winger said she would support any reasonable job action by the writers, but was mindful of the damage it would cause.

“I’m thinking of all the businesses that I work with at Warner Bros. for several months out of the year and (the) restaurants, shoe repair, dry cleaners,” Winger said during an interview promoting her new film, “The Lovers.” ”The last writers’ strike affected the city of Los Angeles in a devastating way.”

At the Met Gala, CBS chairman and CEO Les Moonves said he was guardedly optimistic that a deal would be reached without a strike.

___

Associated Press writers Marcela Isaza in Los Angeles and Brooke Lefferts in New York contributed to this report.

Lynn Elber, The Associated Press

Just Posted

Firefighters come to the rescue of Langley stroke survivors

Hope After Stroke receives major infusion after Cruise-In donation falls short of expectation.

Cloverdale banker shares his love of swing dancing

Cloverdale’s Phillip Kunz shows dancing newcomers how to get into the swing of things

Woman charged in Abbotsford mall stabbing served time for 2001 killing

Victim in Edmonton killing was stabbed eight times with kitchen knife

Trial date scheduled for man charged with killing Abbotsford officer

Oscar Arfmann slated to go to trial in New Westminster in January 2019

All welcome to go on Whoo’s Hoot Owl Prowl in South Langley

Evening event focuses on owls at Campbell Valley Regional Park

VIDEO: Orcas put on a show near Hornby Island

Louis Jobodin shares photos and video of his experience

Body discovered in burnt out car near Trail

Police report a body was found in the burnt out trunk of a 1999 Honda Civic

VIDEO: B.C. Lions sign defensive back T.J. Lee to contract for upcoming season

The four-year veteran had a team-high four interceptions and 49 tackles last season with B.C.

How an immigrant to Canada helped Donald Trump prove his mental health

Test that cleared Trump was developed by doctor associated with McGill and Sherbrooke universities

Premier touches on multiple topics ahead of Asia trade trip

Housing and childcare are expected to be the focus of the BC NDP’s first budget in February.

UPDATE: Friends mourn boy, 15, killed in Vancouver shooting

John Horgan: ‘No stone is to be left unturned until we find the perpetrator of this heinous crime’

VIDEO: Explorers uncover Canada’s deepest cave in Fernie

The cave, named Bisaro Anima, was confirmed to have broken the record on New Year’s Day

Vernon to host largest Special Olympics B.C. Winter Games in 2019

Games to be held Feb. 21-23, with more than 800 athletes expected to take part

Ex-BC Liberal staffer focused on ‘favourable’ ethnic communities in scandal: lawyer

Former communications director Brian Bonney’s sentencing hearing for breach of trust is underway

Most Read