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Hollywood’s actors are still on strike

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With both writers and actors on strike, Hollywood productions ground to a halt over the summer. Actors walked off of sets, and writers stopped working for months. Both writers and actors have been fighting for contracts that prevent an AI from replacing them at their jobs, whether it’s writing scripts or appearing as a background actor.

The unions representing writers and actors — the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) — went on strike after their contracts expired with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the association that represents media companies like Netflix, Disney, Paramount, Universal, and others. While the WGA began its strike on May 2nd, SAG-AFTRA joined the writers at the picket lines on July 14th, marking the first time since 1960 that both unions have gone on strike at the same time.

Now the WGA has ratified a new three-year deal with the studios, while SAG-AFTRA remains on strike as negotiations continue.

Here’s the latest on the strikes.

  • Emma Roth

    Jul 12

    Emma Roth

    Tony Gilroy says he doesn’t “have any idea” what Andor’s audience is.

    That’s all thanks to the way streaming services like Disney Plus keep their viewership data under wraps, the Andor showrunner tells The Wrap. It’s also one of the reasons why Hollywood writers are on strike:

    One of the central issues of this entire labor experience is that I don’t have any idea what the audience is... So I wish I knew how many people watched, I wish I knew who they were, and I’m not sure that that’s possible.

  • Hundreds of actors are ready to strike if SAG-AFTRA doesn’t secure a truly ‘transformative deal’

    SAG-AFTRA logo
    Image: SAG-AFTRA

    Ahead of SAG-AFTRA’s current labor contract with the AMPTP expiring on June 30th, hundreds of the union’s members have signed an open letter to leadership warning that they are more than ready to strike if a new deal properly addressing all of their concerns isn’t hammered out.

    Earlier this week, SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher and national executive director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland posted a curious video update in which they said that they couldn’t provide any real details about the union’s negotiations with the AMPTP for confidentiality reasons.

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  • Unfortunately, Secret Invasion’s AI credits are exactly what we should expect from Marvel

    A tight shot of a man’s face, which seems to be morphing into a green, reptilian version of itself. The man’s face is flanked by glowing green streaks, and the entire image is digitally-generated and made to look like an oil painting.
    A still from Secret Invasion’s opening credits sequence.
    Image: Marvel Studios

    Disney’s Marvel brand has cemented itself as a disquietingly dominant pop cultural fixture whose outsize influence on the larger entertainment industry can be seen in the way that virtually every studio is in the cinematic universe business these days. Even now, Marvel’s approach to filmmaking doesn’t always work well or resonate with audiences. But because Marvel’s one of the largest fish in the pond, decisions it makes — especially those regarding the technology behind its films and tv shows — are easy to interpret as the studio merely keeping pace with the times rather than as one of Hollywood’s giants helping to define what entertainment should look like and how it should be made.

    For the most part, Marvel’s hype-forward way of debuting new projects and then touting all the tech-driven creativity involved in their making afterward has worked in the studio’s favor. But with Secret Invasion — Disney Plus’ latest series set in the MCU — and its open use of AI-generated art, Marvel’s waded into a complicated situation where its own troubled history with VFX workers and AI’s demonstrated potential for harming human artists both make the show seem to be a concerning sign of things to come.

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  • The Directors Guild of America has ratified a new labor contract

    Directors Guild of America logo
    Image: Directors Guild of America

    The Directors Guild of America has voted to ratify a new labor contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

    On Friday evening, as the seventh week of the Writers Guild of America’s ongoing strike was drawing to a close, members of the Directors Guild of America “overwhelmingly” ratified a new labor agreement with the AMPTP that guarantees pay increases and larger residual payouts and includes some language about protections against artificial intelligence tools.

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  • Lilly Wachowski has very good reasons for voting “no” on the DGA’s deal with the AMPTP.

    The Directors Guild of America has already approved a tentative new labor contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, and encouraged members to ratify it by vote.

    But ahead of the voting deadline on June 23rd, a number of directors including Lilly Wachowski have begun speaking out about why they’ve cast “no” ballots, namely: some concerning language in the proposed contract relating to “generative” AI that definitely seems like it could be exploited in nefarious ways.

    Disclosure: The Verge’s editorial staff is also unionized with the Writers Guild of America, East.

  • Spotify’s podcast future isn’t very original

    The Spotify logo on a green backdrop surrounded by pink and white graphics.
    Illustration: Nick Barclay / The Verge

    This is Hot PodThe Verge’s newsletter about podcasting and the audio industry. Sign up here for more.

    When Spotify announced yesterday that it would lay off 200 employees from its podcast unit and combine Gimlet and Parcast into a single operation, it came as a shock to outside observers. But former and current podcast employees at Spotify have seen the writing on the wall for some time. 

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  • If it comes to it, the members of SAG-AFTRA are ready to strike.

    Should the Screen Actors Guid’s upcoming talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers not result in a new labor contract that both sides agree on, the entertainment labor union will be in a position to strike now that an majority of SAG-AFTRA’s members voted to authorize the move.

    As Variety notes, SAG-AFTRA’s vote to strike comes as the WGA’s ongoing strike enters its sixth week.

    Disclosure: The Verge’s editorial staff is also unionized with the Writers Guild of America, East.

  • The AI and streaming provisions of a tentative Directors Guild deal fall flat with the WGA.

    Members of the Writers Guild of America spoke out against the deal, as seen in a report in Deadline. Several with membership in one or both guilds tweeted complaints that the DGA had “made a deal behind our backs” and didn’t get “close to no AI source material.”

    WGA negotiating committee co-chair Chris Keyser was quoted in another Deadline article today:

    If [AMPTP President] Carol Lombardini thinks negotiating with the DGA while we’re out on strike is some kind of trump card, she’s going to find out that her 2007-08 playbook doesn’t belong in the negotiating room; it belongs in a museum.

  • Thunderbolts becomes latest Marvel movie to be hit by writers strike

    Marvel Studios Thunderbolts logo.
    Image: Disney

    Filming for Thunderbolts, the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe film centered around the franchise’s anti-heroes, has been delayed due to the ongoing writers strike, The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline report. Production had been due to start in the coming weeks in Atlanta, but now isn’t expected to commence until after the strike ends.

    Thunderbolts is just the latest production impacted by the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike. The union representing roughly 11,500 writers from across film, television, and more went on strike at the beginning of this month in a dispute around pay in an increasingly streaming-dominated era. The WGA is also seeking to regulate the use of generative AI in writers rooms.

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  • Warner Bros. Discovery apologizes for crediting writers and directors as ‘creators’ on Max

    The Max logo being displayed on a massive screen before an audience.
    A view of the stage during the Warner Bros. Discovery Upfront 2023 at the Theater at Madison Square Garden.
    Photo by Kevin Mazur / Getty Images

    Warner Bros. Discovery’s baffling (but unsurprising) decision to lump writers, directors, and producers together as nondescript “creators” in Max’s new credits section has been met with almost nothing but contempt for reasons that should be very clear four weeks into an industry-wide writers strike. Now, the entertainment giant is apologizing for the move, blaming it on technical issues and apparently working to make things right.

    In joint public statements from Writers Guild of America West president Meredith Stiehm and Directors Guild of America president Lesli Linka Glatter, both organizations lambasted Warner Bros. Discovery Wednesday afternoon for Max’s “devaluation of the individual contributions of artists.”

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  • Boston University graduates roasted the hell out of David Zaslav at their commencement ceremony

    David Zaslav speaking at Boston University’s 2023 commencement
    David Zaslav hearing the jeers of a crowd that doesn’t want him there.
    Image: Boston University

    Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav took to the stage at Boston University’s 2023 commencement ceremony this past weekend intending to receive an honorary doctorate and to ingratiate himself with this year’s graduating students by imparting some useful wisdom. While Zaslav got his degree, his speech to BU’s students was received anything but warmly as numerous people throughout the crowd shouted him down in support of the WGA’s ongoing strike for better pay and working conditions.

    Almost as soon as a sunglasses-sporting Zaslav launched into an uninspired speech reminiscing about his own time at Boston University as a law student, people throughout the commencement ceremony crowd began booing at the 63-year-old entertainment executive and did not let up until he stopped talking almost 20 minutes later.

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  • Production on Severance and A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Knight is stopping for the WGA strike

    A photo of Adam Scott in the Apple TV Plus series Severance.
    Image: Apple

    The Writers Guild of America’s current strike is shaping up to be a shining example of just how much power workers have when working collectively. Take, for example, the way production has been halted on Apple’s Severance and HBO’s upcoming Game of Thrones spinoff A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Knight due to picketing WGA members and allies refusing to cross the line.

    Deadline reports that, in direct response to the organized demonstrations of striking writers, production on Severance’s second season in New York City and on The Hedge Knight — which is still being written — has stopped, with no clear date as to when things might ramp back up.

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  • Writers are striking and AI rights are on the table.

    The Writers Guild of America (WGA) voted to strike this morning, and though low pay is the main incentive, there’s another contentious issue: AI. The WGA wants to protect members so their work is not used by Hollywood studios to train AI tools that replace them. As Vox explains, it’s a fight that will likely be replicated across many industries in the years to come.

  • Hollywood writers are striking over low wages caused by streaming boom

    Striking Writers Rally At Time Warner Center In New York
    The 2007 writers' strike (pictured above) lost California an estimated $2.1 billion and was credited with tipping the state into a recession.
    Photo by Stephen Chernin/Getty Images

    As of today, thousands of Hollywood television and movie writers are going on strike for the first time in 15 years. 

    The Writers Guild of America (WGA) voted unanimously to strike on Tuesday after contract negotiations with the major Hollywood studios collapsed. The WGA is attempting to secure higher wages and better working conditions from the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) — a group representing around 350 major studios and streaming services like Netflix, Disney, Amazon, Apple, and Sony — for the thousands of movie and television writers the union represents. Picket lines are expected to form starting Tuesday afternoon.

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  • The WGA has overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike

    The WGA logo.
    Image: The Writers Guild of America

    While contract negotiations between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers are still underway, the WGA’s members have just gotten one step closer to striking should this round of talks not resolve before May.

    Deadline reports that an overwhelming majority (97 percent) of the WGA’s members voted today to authorize a strike — a move that empowers the WGA West Board and the WGA East Council to call for a strike if the WGA and the AMPTP can’t agree upon a fair labor contract by May 1st. (Disclosure: The Verge’s editorial staff is represented by the Writers Guild of America East.) Of the WGA’s eligible voting members, 9,020 voted in favor of the strike authorization, while 198 opposed. In an email to members, the WGA said that the results sent a clear message and set new records “for both participation and the percentage of support in a strike authorization vote.”

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  • The Writers Guild of America likens AI-generated content to plagiarism

    The WGA logo.
    Image: The Writers Guild of America

    If you were worried that film and TV were about to become a wasteland of AI-generated dialogue, then know that the Writers Guild of America, East, is in your corner. Earlier today, Variety reported that the WGA had floated a proposal in its contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) that would allow writers and studios to use AI tools in limited capacities. This led to much consternation from the writing community, which understandably feels under threat over the rapid adoption of AI as a writing tool.

    Notably, as we reported below, the Variety report did not acknowledge whether scripts wholly generated by AI would be allowed. Since then, the WGA has released a statement on Twitter that, while not directly countering Variety’s report, does clarify the union’s stance. “Companies can’t use AI to undermine writers’ working standards including compensation, residuals, separated rights and credits,” the Twitter thread begins.

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  • Alex Cranz

    Dec 14, 2022

    Alex Cranz

    The golden age of the streaming wars has ended

    A person examines the big wall of content.
    Image: Getty Images

    It’s over. For the last half-decade, we’ve enjoyed a golden age in entertainment. The rise of the streaming service has brought more TV and film into our homes than ever before. It’s been a joy — and sometimes a chore — to keep up with every new offering Netflix, HBO Max, Disney Plus, and the rest put before us. But over the last few months, we’ve seen a reorientation of how many of these services do business, and it’s clear that this glut of content we’ve enjoyed, for the mere cost of a monthly subscription, is about to end. Some of us are going to keenly feel the pain of that more than others.

    Before streaming changed the landscape of Hollywood, it was a very different place. It could take writers years to become showrunners, and the number of plum roles for a new star was few and far between. There was a lot of reality TV — particularly on cable — but scripted television was limited to just a handful of channels. The owners of those channels were in a brutal competition for your eyeballs, crafting prestige show after prestige show to arrest our attention. From 1999, with the premiere of The Sopranos, to somewhere in the mid-2010s, there was a Golden Age of TV.

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