It’s déjà vu in Hollywood. Movie and TV writers are threatening to go on strike again.
The Writers Guild of America’s current contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers ends May 1. If a new deal isn’t made by then, work could stop the next day.
Not surprisingly, the writers want a raise. Studios are making fewer movies. And while cable networks are producing more shows, they’re keeping seasons shorter with only 10 to 13 episodes.
TV writers are paid by the episode, and they typically are not writing every episode of a series. But many networks put an exclusivity clause into writers’ contracts, so they aren’t allowed to write for multiple shows at one time and earn more money.
The Writers Guild also wants streaming services like Netflix and Amazon to pay their writers residuals that are more on par with the networks. Residuals are fees writers get when a show they wrote runs again.
The guild also wants networks and studios to contribute more to its health plan.
Back in late 2007, members of the WGA went on strike for 100 days. So, TV shows like “30 Rock” and “Bones” aired shorter seasons, and late-night talk shows like “Late Night with David Letterman” aired reruns. Analysts estimated the strike dealt a $2.5 billion blow to Los Angeles’ economy.
A strike this time around could mean more unscripted reality shows and postponed fall TV premieres. Production for new seasons typically starts in May or June.
Fans of cable and streaming network shows have less to worry about. Many upcoming seasons, like Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” are already written.
As for the movie industry, films with unfinished scripts could be put on hold.
Writers Guild members have until April 24 to vote on a strike if there’s no new contract deal by the beginning of May.