Hollywood Writers Strike Enters Second Month

Thousands of Hollywood writers are currently on strike against major production studios and are demanding higher pay, a stable pay structure, and fairer deals, contracts, and provisions about artificial intelligence. The strike began on May 2, 2023 and is still ongoing, with a tentative agreement being struck on June 4, 2023.

The strike is led by the Writers Guild of America (WGA), which is an alliance of two labor unions representing over 11,000 Hollywood writers. Writers have been picketing at the headquarters of major production studios, such as Netflix, Warner Bros, Amazon, and Universal Studios

Streaming services have made it significantly difficult for writers to find a sustainable job, as high-budget shows shown on streaming services are shorter and typically renewed less. As profits for streamers have been rising, the wages for writers have been falling, with the median weekly writer-producer pay declining by 23% over the past decade.

“Further complicating matters, technology constantly brings uncertainty and change to Hollywood,” says Humanities junior Alis Chang. “AI has the potential, at least in the future, to produce intriguing scripts far more quickly. It might affect more than just writers’ salaries; it could even result in the complete abolition of their profession for substantial portions of the entertainment industry.”

English teacher Lisa Marshall emphasizes the importance of writers in the incoming age of AI technology.

“[AI technology] will only produce things that have already been thought of,” Marshall says.

  It can’t think, it can’t create. It’s not going to think outside of the box because it already lives inside of the box. What you really want is something that is cogent and coherent, which can only come from actual humans.” 

The WGA is proposing regulations on AI. These regulations include pay structures which make-up for the elimination of residuals, which are payments writers receive when the shows they have worked on are re-released, preservation of writers’ rooms, minimum pay for streaming, and guaranteed number of on-the-week jobs for writers. The WGA’s proposals would cost studios $429 million per year.

Late Night Shows and SNL have been heavily affected by the Writers Strike. SNL went dark on May 6, 2023 and Late Night Shows like “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” and “The Late Night Show with Stephen Colbert” are running reruns of their shows instead of taping live shows.

Many shows have delayed productions due to the lack of writers in their writers rooms. Shows such as the CBS drama “Evil” and Apple TV+ comedy “Loot” stopped production after picket lines began forming at filming locations.

 Many non-writer crew members of these shows have also joined the picket lines in solidarity with the writers. Shows like ABCs “Abbott Elementary” and Netflix’s “Stranger Things” have stopped production in solidarity with the writers. Actors such as Rob Lowe, Tina Fey, Fran Descher, Seth Meyers, and Mindy Kaling have also been found along the picket lines supporting the writers. 

“I think what really helps [the Writers Strike] is that a lot of actors, and even executives and producers, have spoken out in favor of the writers, especially people like Tina Fey who have been writers themselves, people who recognize the importance of writing,” Marshall says.