In Hours, Your TV Watching May Take a Serious Hit

Hollywood braces for strike by writers at midnight, unless a deal is reached
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 1, 2023 11:20 AM CDT
In Hours, Your TV Watching May Take a Serious Hit
From 2007: Striking writers walk the picket line outside Paramount Studios on Dec. 13, 2007, in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)

Hollywood is now hours away from a strike that would affect scores of TV shows and films—as well the people who watch them. And the main sentiment in coverage is that a deal looks unlikely before the midnight deadline. Details:

  • Two sides: On one side is the Writers Guild of America, and on the other is the studios who pay them, represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. In broad strokes, the guild is seeking about $600 million in pay increases, along with other demands, per the Los Angeles Times. But the main sticking point is an extremely complicated one—how to fairly pay writers in an age when streaming has upended the traditional production model.

  • Hope fades: Both the LA Times and CNN report that the two sides are far apart. No temporary extension appears to be in the works, either. If no deal is reached, the writers will go on strike at 12:01am Tuesday (West Coast time). The last such strike 15 years ago lasted 100 days.
  • The impact: The first shows to go dark would likely be the late-night talk shows, as well as ones such as Saturday Night Live and Last Week Tonight With John Oliver that rely heavily on writers, per the BBC. Soap operas would quickly be in trouble, too. "If this goes on, we'll see more reality, news, and sports," Jonathan Handel, an entertainment attorney, tells CNN.
  • Impact, II: Scripted shows and films will see a different impact, depending on how far along they are in production. The BBC notes that some projects might be able to theoretically continue shooting, but actors who support the strike may balk at participating.
  • The arguments: This isn't about posh lifestyles, argues screenwriter Zack Stentz in a New York Times essay: "At stake is nothing less than the survival of film and television writing as a viable middle-class career for the majority of our membership." On the flip side, studios are under intense pressure from Wall Street to cut costs and make money from their streaming businesses, notes the LA Times.
  • Nitty-gritty: Deadline has a comprehensive look at the details and the main players. One modern wrinkle is how to handle the advent of artificial intelligence when it comes to crediting (and paying) writers.
(More Hollywood writers' strike stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.