WGA Talks to Resume Next Week After Monthlong Limbo

Talks between the Writers Guild of America and the major studios are set to resume next week, as the sides seek to end the four-month-old writers strike.

The WGA asked the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on Wednesday for a meeting, the studio alliance said in a statement.

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“On Wednesday, September 13, the WGA reached out to the AMPTP and asked for a meeting to move negotiations forward,” the AMPTP said. “We have agreed and are working to schedule a meeting next week. Every member company of the AMPTP is committed and eager to reach a fair deal, and to working together with the WGA to end the strike.”

The WGA confirmed that the two sides are working to restart negotiations.

“The WGA and AMPTP are in the process of scheduling a time to get back in the room,” the union told members in an email.

The two sides were last at the negotiating table on Aug. 18. Several entertainment CEOs met with a group of WGA leaders at the Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel on Aug. 22, but there have been no talks since then.

Each side has maintained that the other side owes them a response, which has kept the talks frozen in place for the last three weeks.

The WGA is seeking a streaming residual that would be based on the number of views for each show. The union also wants a mandatory minimum number of writers per TV show, which would increase with the number of episodes.

The AMPTP has rejected both of those demands. However, in its Aug. 11 counteroffer, the studio group did offer to make viewership data available to the WGA, so that it could develop a residual proposal at the next negotiation in three years. The studios also offered to let showrunners hire at least two writers per show, though it would not agree to a guaranteed minimum staff size.

The sides are also at odds on a range of other issues, including two-step deals for feature writers and minimum terms for comedy-variety and game show writers on streaming.

The WGA said on Aug. 24 that the studios’ latest offer was filled with “loopholes, limitations, and omissions,” and said that while progress had been made, it was “not yet good enough.” Since then, WGA leaders have repeatedly said that the studios were working on a new offer, while the studios have called on the WGA to fully respond to its Aug. 11 offer.

The WGA did counter on Aug. 15, largely sticking to its original positions, but offering slight concessions in a couple of areas.

Since Labor Day, several showrunners have started to get restless over the apparent lack of progress toward returning to the table. Drew Barrymore and Bill Maher also announced this week that they are restarting their talk shows without their writers, drawing fire from the WGA, which warned that anyone who writes literary material for those shows will be violating strike rules.

The strike began on May 2, and will become the longest in WGA history if it makes it to Oct. 4. SAG-AFTRA also went on strike on July 14, marking the first time in 63 years that both unions have been on strike at the same time.

The AMPTP has not restarted talks with SAG-AFTRA since that strike began, and has instead focused on trying to get a deal with the writers.

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