The Writers Guild of America and major studio representatives met Friday for the third day this week, as throngs of film and television screenwriters hit picket lines in a show of solidarity and hope that the sides would reach a deal to end the epic strike that has thrown tens of thousands of people out of work.
There was still no agreement Friday evening, with gaps remaining between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the major Hollywood studios in labor negotiations. As of 7 p.m., the meeting was still underway, according to people briefed on the talks who were not authorized to comment.
Representatives of the WGA and AMPTP had no comment Friday.
The two sides have been negotiating for a new contract that would end the writers’ strike, which has stretched for more than 140 days, crippling much of the entertainment economy by shutting down scripted TV and movie production.
While the recent string of marathon talks have shown progress, the writers and the studios had yet to reach compromises on key issues by Friday’s gathering, including minimum staffing in writers’ rooms and streaming data disclosures for the purposes of establishing a payment system based on viewership. Friday’s meeting began at about 11 a.m.
The duration of the strikes and the drama surrounding the negotiations has been a roller coaster for workers, including writers, actors, directors and below-the-line crew, who are waiting for a deal to come together so they can return to their trades.
The sides began negotiating Wednesday for the first time since late August. In a sign of the studios’ eagerness to end the work stoppage, top executives from four entertainment giants joined the meetings: Walt Disney Co.’s Bob Iger, Warner Bros. Discovery’s David Zaslav, Netflix’s Ted Sarandos and NBCUniversal’s Donna Langley.
Negotiations have taken place during all-day sessions, leading to renewed optimism that a deal could be reached as soon as this week despite the thorniness of the remaining issues, though it remains unlikely that a agreement will be hammered out before the weekend, sources said. Monday is the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur.
Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said in a statement on Thursday that she was “very encouraged” that the principals came to the table this week.
“The entertainment industry is a fundamental pillar of our economy, directly impacting not just those who work in the industry but the thousands of small businesses that support the industry every day,” Bass said. “I will continue to be in touch with all parties involved. Let’s get this deal done.”
The WGA’s negotiating committee sent a note to members on Thursday night saying they would meet again with AMPTP on Friday and called on writers to show up in force on picket lines in front of the studios.
“Your Negotiating Committee appreciates all the messages of solidarity and support we have received the last few days, and ask as many of you as possible to come to the picket lines tomorrow,” the committee wrote.
Writers throughout Los Angeles obliged, marching and protesting near Walt Disney Co.’s Burbank headquarters, Paramount Pictures’ Hollywood lot, Universal Pictures in Universal City and the Fox studio in Century City. Photos of writers holding signs flooded social media.
“Seeing pics of the lines today is EVERYTHING. #wgastrong,” wrote Ellen Stutzman, the WGA’s chief negotiator, on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
Sources said both sides are continuing to work to get to an agreement, but the two sides need to reach a consensus on major issues related to how streaming has upended the traditional television business.
Shorter seasons for streaming shows and smaller writers’ rooms have cut into guild members’ pay and stability, making it harder to earn a sustainable living in the expensive media hubs of Los Angeles and New York, guild members have said.
To address this, the WGA sought a minimum of six writers per room in its original proposal. The AMPTP, in an Aug. 11 proposal, offered to let showrunners on high-budget streaming and TV series hire at least two writers for at least 20 weeks of employment. It further proposed guaranteeing writers a minimum of 10 weeks of employment in development rooms.
Writers also are seeking additional payment based on viewership data. The AMPTP, in its Aug. 11 offer, proposed that the WGA could study confidential quarterly reports that show total minutes viewed of high-budget films and series and the programs’ total running time.
But in an Aug. 24 memo, the WGA’s negotiating committee said AMPTP only offered to show that data to six guild staffers and said they could not share that data with other writers. “The counteroffer is neither nothing, nor nearly enough,” the negotiating committee said in its memo at the time.
Hollywood film and TV actors organized under SAG-AFTRA also went on strike in mid-July, further energizing the writers at a critical moment in what has become known as “hot labor summer.” SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP have not held formal talks since the actors’ strike began.
Staff writer Julia Wick contributed to this report.