Prospects for TV Production Restart Following WGA's Agreement.
After an extensive period of nearly 150 days, Hollywood studios have finally reached a preliminary accord with the Writers Guild of America for a fresh contract. Unless unexpected objections arise from WGA members, the writer's segment of the Hollywood strike is effectively concluded.
So, when can viewers expect their beloved shows to return to screens? And when will highly anticipated films resume production?
The concise response is as soon as feasibly possible. WGA members have consistently expressed their eagerness to reoccupy the writers' rooms. Concurrently, the studios, represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers in guild negotiations, have incurred significant financial losses during the strike and need prompt production revival to mitigate these losses.
However, specific prerequisites must be fulfilled before this revival can occur, commencing with the contract's ratification.
In the coming days, the precise terms of the deal will be formalized in official documentation. Subsequently, the WGA Negotiating Committee will conduct a vote to decide on recommending and transmitting the agreement to the guild's board for approval. This vote is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday.
Following the acquisition of the contract, guild leaders will disseminate it among members for a ratification vote. While the guild has not disclosed a specific timeline for this vote, it must allow members sufficient time to scrutinize the contract before casting their votes.
It is worth noting that guild leaders may opt to lift the restraining order and conclude the strike on a specific yet undetermined date and time, pending ratification. According to the WGA, this would enable writers to return to work during the ratification vote without impeding the membership's right to decide on contract approval.
Writers are advised not to resume work until duly authorized by the guild.
Another factor adding complexity is the ongoing strike by SAG-AFTRA since July 13, which the WGA has pledged to support until its resolution.
As of the latest update, the actors' guild and studios still need to set a date for resuming negotiations. However, insiders suggest that recommencing talks with the actors has been a priority for some studios, especially when discussions with the WGA encountered obstacles.
Given that actors and writers struck for similar reasons, the guild will likely secure a deal on terms akin to the WGA at the earliest opportunity.
One of the final points of contention between WGA and AMPTP centered on safeguarding members who prefer to wait until SAG-AFTRA resolves before returning to work. Or, as articulated in a memo to WGA members in early August, to "honor other unions' picket lines as they have honored ours during this strike."
The specifics of the deal still need to be disclosed. Notably, the WGA suspended its picket lines on Sunday but encouraged members to join SAG-AFTRA pickets until the guild issues authorization to resume work.
Regarding late-night programming, the timeline remains somewhat uncertain, but viewers can anticipate figures like Meyers, Fallon, and Colbert to be among the first to resume work. These hosts were some of the quickest to halt production and could be among the first to restart. However, the exact timeline will be determined by each show. Nevertheless, in August, a knowledgeable source hinted that late-night shows could be operational within as little as two weeks.
Representatives for these programs have yet to respond to TheWrap's request for comment.
The scripted series will likely be the last to return to screens. While writers can begin crafting new scripts, television shows rely on actors to resume work. IN AUGUST, former NBC Studios president Tom Nunan suggested that the most optimistic scenario would be to have network shows back in production in January.
Insiders, however, posit that this timeline could be expedited. "Law & Order: SVU" showrunner Warren Leight outlined a potential path on social media that would enable 13-episode seasons of scripted series to proceed if the strike concluded by October. Leight proposed that once hired, writers would require less than the customary five to six weeks lead time to initiate the season since they'd be producing only 13 episodes. Furthermore, he noted that if everyone agreed to a one-week Christmas break instead of the usual two weeks of unpaid leave, productions might manage to shoot five episodes before the new year.
Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav also expressed optimism this month, affirming during an investor conference in early September that "as soon as these strikes are resolved, everybody is ready to get back to work."
Nonetheless, it should be underscored that SAG still needs to secure its deal. Without actors, no scripted series can recommence. Michelle Hurd, "Star Trek: Picard" actress and the Los Angeles VP of the actors' guild, elucidated in August that there was minimal likelihood of SAG reentering negotiations before the WGA resolved.
"The bottom line is that we can't go back into negotiations until they agree with the WGA," Hurd stated. "So this makes it, you know, as long as there's actual true good faith bargaining happening, then that path to us getting back is closer because they're at that table."