Illustrated by Zohar Lazar
Now Warren Wright — Veteran Showrunner of LAW & ORDER: Special Victims Office And the Writers Guild strike captain is sleep-deprived to make sure the TV show doesn’t air. He is at the center of the union’s policy of adopting a more targeted picketing strategy aimed at halting production.
“This morning, at 2am, 20 people went out into the street and blocked the road. BillionsMetaphorically speaking, it’s perfect,” he said. hollywood reporterof tv top 5 In our May 24 podcast, we discussed the recent expansion from high-armed protests at corporate headquarters to more disruptive actions aimed at impacting revenue and reorienting power relations. The strategy change came out of the general public, but Guild leadership now “recognizes this as a pretty powerful thing,” he says.
Using his long history as a television writer and showrunner and connections from his social media prominence, Mr. Leight, along with a growing number of WGA counterparts, helped organize a series of successful labor movements. I have collected. The protests, which small groups gather within hours, are often respected (and sometimes joined) by teamsters, IATSE members and other sympathetic allies. As a result, production is stopped. “The overall idea is [content] pipeline,” he says.
Closure transcends the country, booty and good trouble in Los Angeles Qi Chicago and evil in New York.
In early May, screenwriters picketed the L.A. location of writer-director Aziz Ansari’s Lionsgate movie. good luck It lasted about two and a half days before production was indefinitely halted on May 19th. Picketer Kyla Jones (woke up, queens) these actions say “hit” [employers] Put the hardest thing in your pocket than anything else we do. So I hope they get us back on track and get back to work. Add Lauren Conn (lost symbol) also participated. good luck Pickettline, “You need to make sure no writes are happening across the board.”
The focus on closure, which relies on the cooperation of workplace unions, is a notable change for the Writers’ Union. The previous strike of 2007-2008 proved far more isolated and at odds with the nominal allied workers, but had no comparable strategy. Now the Guilds, allied with the grumpy Hollywood workers’ rallies of other unions, have found themselves reaping the benefits of unity, each with their own grievances, sometimes overlapping, seeking to soften the bargaining grounds for their own contract negotiations. working hard. The WGA, meanwhile, declined to “discuss the details” of its closure strategy.
On average, a day of lost production costs a company $200,000 to $300,000. Insurance does not cover stoppages due to strikes. Industry leading underwriter Allianz said: THR“It is still in its early stages and it is too early to speculate on future premium implications.”
Similar to the recent impact the pandemic has had on studio plans, some work-in-progress that was abandoned during the strike may not return when the strike ends, top corporate decision-makers said. Says. Considerations include how many episodes remain to be filmed in the season, the presence or absence of a cast, and the show’s importance to the platform.
several senior executives who spoke with THR On condition of anonymity, he described the guerrilla-style operation with the same word: “effective.” It sparked an ongoing cat-and-cat game. WGA member immediate response forces will be mobilized for picketing at studio gates and location shoots based on tip-offs. While LA filming permits are publicly documented (notices of filming in neighborhoods are posted prior to production, and production activity is released 48 hours after completion), at least some of the practical information, especially the last-minute Information comes from sympathetic people. Members of other trade unions.
Picketing shifts often begin, end, or continue at night to avoid crossing lines. To counter these efforts, some productions distributed call sheets with incorrect call times. Billionscould bus crews, facilitate crossing picket lines, and potentially ensure anonymity.
Jones recalls that Hollywood’s Raleigh Studios had one picket to produce, but no production activity. “Nobody came. Either they postponed the shoot, they moved to another location, or we got the wrong information,” she says.
Lindsay Dougherty, leader of the Hollywood Teamsters whose drivers are starting to move away from the picket line (her organization is set to enter talks with AMPTP next year), said the WGA’s move to shut down production isn’t surprising. talk. “If this was our strike, we would have done the same,” she says.
Key grip and stunt trigger Wade Coates is the administrator of the Facebook group that serves as a conduit for production information sourced from the crew to the WGA picketers. He believes the outrage across the industry has created a unique moment of unity. “Right now, everyone is ‘below the limit,'” said Cordts, who is a member of both SAG-AFTRA and IATSE. “It’s these giant corporations that are trying to destroy the workforce.”
One programmer observes that the shutdown has resulted in the loss of jobs for project staff whose writers have already been paid. “Who’s really hurt?” they say. “Is it really hurting studios? Not much.” You can save tax. ”
A veteran showrunner and longtime WGA member disagrees with the idea that the studio has a silver lining given the spin. “If you can save money, shutting down all the shows and getting out of showbiz would really save you all the money,” he says. Another veteran studio player agreed, noting that the economic upturn was short-lived.there were predictions of what they were [stopped] Shaw will be useful for us. it’s a loss. “
In any case, labor experts observe that for writers and their guilds, closures are more broadly for building strength, building alliances, and uplifting spirits.
“It stops production, but it’s also a way to advertise strength and determination,” explains Michael Kazin, a professor at Georgetown University who studies union power.
Added University of Rhode Island Professor Eric Loomis, author of Learn American History with 10 Strikes: “Maintaining morale is very important, otherwise people will sneak away and cross the picket line in search of other jobs.”
Joshua B. Freeman, a professor of factory labor at the City University of New York, agrees. “Doing things as a group really keeps us together,” he said, adding that a production shutdown in the entertainment sector would require the cooperation of other union workers and strengthen camaraderie. “Looking at these long-term power relationships between workers and employers, visible solidarity suggests that the employer is not just dealing with his one group in isolation. It shows. They are dealing with everyone.”
Doherty, head of Hollywood Teamsters, said of the implicit and overt support for the writer’s closure strategy: that is hope. We hope that all productions will resume sooner rather than later, as these projects are clearly important to our employers. ”
A version of this story first appeared in the May 31st issue of The Hollywood Reporter. Click here to subscribe.