(MENAFN- AsiaNet News) The Hollywood writers' strike, which has halted most film and television production and cost the California economy billions, is on the verge of ending as the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and major studios have reached a tentative agreement. However, the strike by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) actors' union remains unresolved.
The three-year labor contract, described by the WGA as "exceptional" with "meaningful gains and protections for writers," still requires approval from the WGA leadership and union members before it can take effect. The strike, which began on May 2 due to disputes over compensation, minimum staffing in writers' rooms, the use of artificial intelligence, and residuals for streaming shows, among other issues, has lasted for 146 days.
Caroline Renard, a WGA liaison, emphasized the importance of unity within the industry, stating, "This is a union industry, and it's about the people that make the actual product that makes these companies billions of dollars."
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, representing major studios like Disney, Netflix, and Warner Bros Discovery, confirmed the tentative agreement in a brief statement.
While the WGA settlement marks a significant milestone, it won't immediately return Hollywood to normalcy, as the SAG-AFTRA actors' strike continues. The strikes have disrupted production, causing late-night talk shows to air reruns and daytime talk shows, such as "The Drew Barrymore Show," to face challenges in resuming without writers and actors.
During the strikes, tensions ran high, with writers criticizing media executives' compensation and working conditions, while some executives, like Disney's Bob Iger, initially called the demands of striking writers and actors unrealistic before later expressing respect for creative professionals.
The economic toll of the strikes has been substantial, affecting not only crew members but also various small businesses supporting the industry, including caterers, florists, and costume suppliers. Economist Kevin Klowden estimated the economic cost at over $5 billion in California and other U.S. production hubs.
Key industry leaders, including Bob Iger, David Zaslav, Ted Sarandos, and Donna Langley, joined negotiations in a successful effort to break the impasse that had lasted for months.
One central issue in the strike has been residual payments for streaming services, with writers seeking more equitable compensation compared to traditional broadcast television. They have also raised concerns about the role of artificial intelligence in the creative process, fearing lower pay rates for AI-generated script revisions and potential intellectual property theft.
Despite the end of the writers' strike, the studios still face the challenge of resolving the ongoing actors' strike led by SAG-AFTRA, which represents a wide range of professionals in the industry. The actors' demands include fair minimum wages, safeguards against AI replacing human performances, and compensation that reflects their contributions to streaming services.
In a statement, SAG-AFTRA urged studio CEOs and negotiators to return to the bargaining table and negotiate a fair deal for their members.
The strikes reflect the ongoing challenges and negotiations in the entertainment industry as it adapts to new distribution models, with both writers and actors seeking a fair share of the revenue generated by streaming services and addressing concerns related to artificial intelligence and compensation.
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