The group, which represents major Hollywood studios in union negotiations, has called for a meeting with the Writers Guild of America to end a nearly 100-day strike.
The president of the Alliance of Film and TV Producers wrote to the Writers’ Association to propose a meeting to continue talks, the union said in a statement to its members Tuesday night.
The writers have been on strike since May 2 after their trade said producers had failed to address many of their core concerns – including the threat posed to their jobs by AI and the increasing prevalence of short-term contracts.
“AMPTP contacted the WGA today, through Carol Lombardini, requesting a meeting this Friday to discuss negotiations,” the WGA said in a statement to its members.
“We will get back to you with more information at some point after the meeting,” it said. “As we’ve said before, be wary of rumours.” “If there’s important news to share, get it straight from us.”
A group representing major Hollywood studios in union negotiations has called for a meeting with the Writers Guild of America to end a nearly 100-day strike. Strikers march past the WGA building during the 2023 Writers Guild Of America strike
Carol Lombardini (pictured) is President and Chief Negotiator for the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents companies including Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Disney, Discovery-Warner, NBC Universal, Paramount and Sony
Writers Guild of America Chief Negotiator Ellen Stutzman (pictured) speaks outside Amazon Studios July 19 in Culver City, California
Lombardini is President and Chief Negotiator for AMPTP, which represents companies including Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Disney, Discovery-Warner, NBC Universal, Paramount and Sony. Her counterpart in the WGA is Ellen Stutzman.
It’s the first notable advance since the strike began and could spell the end of one of the two strikes that paralyzed Hollywood.
The writers’ strike coincided with a separate actors’ strike that began on July 13 and remains in a stalemate.
It is the first time since 1960 that both groups have not gone on strike at the same time. The last writers’ strike began in 2007, lasted 100 days and cost the entertainment industry $2.1 billion.
It was not immediately known if the AMPTP made a similar attempt to find a solution with the actors represented by a separate union, SAG-AFTRA.
When asked about the prospect of talks with either guild, an AMPTP spokesman said in an email simply: “We remain committed to finding a path to mutually beneficial agreements with both unions.”
Talks between screenwriters and their employers broke down on May 1st.
Issues behind the strike include wage rates amid inflation, the use of smaller writing crews for shorter seasons of TV shows, and control over AI in screenwriting.
“I was hoping we would have had discussions with the industry by now,” SAG-AFTRA Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland told The Associated Press on Tuesday, before the email was sent to the authors.
“Of course it hasn’t happened yet, but I’m optimistic,” he added.
Despite the meeting, the WGA and AMPTP remain far apart on a variety of issues. Among other things, the studio group rejected the guild’s proposals for a minimum TV cast and viewer-based residuals.
The WGA announced on May 1 that it had been unable to reach an agreement with the studios and streamers. Al Franken and Cynthia Nixon are seen outside the NBC building at the Writers Guild of America strike on May 23
The offices of the Writers Guild of America West are seen in Los Angeles as Hollywood film and television writers begin a strike on Tuesday
Alysia Reiner takes part in the Writers Guild of America strike in front of the NBC building May 23 in New York
The WGA announced on May 1 that it had been unable to reach an agreement with the studios and streamers, accusing the companies of “breaking this deal.”
“We have explained how the companies’ business practices have cut our compensation and balances and affected our working conditions,” it said.
The leaders of the guilds argued that they wanted to make it easier for middle-class writers to make a living in the fickle business.
In particular, the group accused studios of turning their profession into a gig economy, meaning writers work close to freelance and don’t have the stability of long-term employment.
The changes in the industry have largely been driven by the advent of online streaming. Residual royalties were previously negotiated by the WGA and paid to authors for rebroadcasting television programs, but in the streaming era these royalties have declined.
Another issue that led to the strike is span protection. Streaming has dramatically shortened television seasons. The shows are now around eight to ten episodes per season, as opposed to the previous model of around 22 to 24 episodes.
Writers can still spend longer hours working on shorter shows, effectively reducing their per-episode pay. Margin protection limits how long writers can work on an episode before the studio is forced to spend more money.
Authors are now trying to expand span protection and apply it to more members.
In addition, the guild wishes to increase the minimum earning rates for authors consistent with rising inflation rates and cost-of-living adjustments.
Each cycle, the WGA typically negotiates a 3 percent increase in the minimum payment rate. But some board members have called for minimums to be doubled this cycle, in what could be a false start for studios.