After five days of negotiations, following 146 days of striking, the WGA and the AMPTP have reached a tentative deal for a new three-year mutual bargaining agreement between screenwriters and the studios. The deal is still “subject to drafting final contract language”, per a statement WGA leadership sent to their members Sunday night, but there’s no reason to expect major changes from what they’ve already agreed upon. The negotiations over the weekend were to address the final sticking points between the two groups—writers’ room staffing levels, and concerns about AI in the industry.

 

The next steps are for the WGA negotiating committee to vote on recommending the agreement, which then sends it to the WGA East and West boards for approval. That vote is penciled in for Tuesday, allowing for observance of Yom Kippur through Monday evening. Following the East and West approvals, the guild members then vote on ratification. During this interregnum, the strike is still active, though the WGA leadership told members that picketing is now suspended. It could take the rest of the week to fully settle the issue, but it is now a matter of mere days before the writers’ strike is over.

The exact contents of the deal aren’t yet known, but in their message to their membership, the WGA negotiating committee called it “exceptional”, with “gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership”. At bare minimum, I hope it’s a better deal than the directors got, which left gaping holes around guaranteed residuals and AI protections.

 

As for the SAG-AFTRA strike, that continues, and their leadership congratulated the WGA while urging the AMPTP to get back to negotiations with them. Though the writers will soon be back to work, it does appear they will be encouraged to continue picketing in support of the actors, just as actors showed up on WGA picket lines for weeks before their own strike kicked off earlier this summer. This has been a moment of labor solidarity not seen in the entertainment industry since 1960, and it seems no one is willing to squander the goodwill. Also, while writers can get the wheels of filmmaking back in motion, no one can shoot anything, in the US, at least, without SAG-AFTRA, so productions will remain virtually shut down until the actors’ strike is resolved.

I also want to point out the Variety article used as the source here refers to Hollywood—show business, the dream factory—as “the content industry”. Not even the entertainment industry. The CONTENT industry. F-ck off with that f-cking management-speak bullsh-t. Now more than ever, everyone who works in film & television, who loves film & television, should resist the reduction of cinema to “content”. 

 

This, more than any public posturing or rumor swirling right now, makes me think the writers got a more than favorable deal. The studios and the stuffed fleece vests who run them will spend the next three years trying to convince us that the films and series that move us—that make us cry, laugh, think, and feel something outside of our own experience—are nothing but “content”. That a 30 second cat video is the same thing as Oppenheimer. I love cat videos, but they’re not f-cking Oppenheimer

David Zaslav and his team of creative vampires already tried this when they (re)launched Max and listed directors, writers, and producers under one reductive “creators” label on the credits. Everyone instantly hated it, but they dragged their feet fixing it, as if to prove they could wipe out the effort of so many people to tell moving, entertaining stories with the single press of a button. And they’re already trying it again with this “content industry” crap.

I guarantee in three years when it’s time for the WGA to negotiate a new deal, there’s going to be some TikTok kid—or whatever comes after TikTok, maybe it will already be burnt out by then—swearing up and down that what they do is equivalent to what Martin Scorsese or Greta Gerwig or Chris Nolan or Lulu Wang or Barry Jenkins or Hayao Miyazaki or Bong Joon-ho or Steven Spielberg or Ava DuVernay or Wong Kar-wai or Jordan Peele or Emma Seligman or Jesse Armstrong or Christopher Storer or Mike Flanagan or Shonda Rhimes or Armando Ianucci or Quinta Brunson does. 

 

There are a lot of creative people making interesting, funny, entertaining stuff for apps. And someday soon, we’re going to have to decide what to call that, because it’s not fair to call it “content”, either, because it is clear the good stuff takes a lot of effort. It’s evolving in its own creative format and entertainment space, and it needs its own name, and maybe someday it will be a problem for cinema—young people are already more likely to scroll social media than choose to watch a movie—but it should be respected as its own creative endeavor.

But calling everything “content” is meant to reduce all of entertainment—all of art—into one interchangeable heap where nothing has any intrinsic value. It sounds dramatic, but they already threw a nearly five-month tantrum about paying writers a living wage—not a get rich wage, just a living one. Do you think their attitude will improve in three years? It will not. In three years, they’ll be re-launching Quibi and trying to convince us it’s the Great Library of Alexandria. This is Scooby Doo-level villain sh-t, and we should never stop pulling the mask off the old guy trying to loot our cultural inheritance for a f-cking hedge fund.

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