A Hollywood strike is underway, the first in 15 years, as the Writers Guild of America leave their desks for the picket lines.
According to the 11,500 members of the WGA, the streaming boom has hit their industry hard. Pay has not kept up with profits, and networks have pared down heavily on using writers while allowing them less creative liberty in their work.
“Everything’s changed, but the money has changed in the wrong direction,” said Kelly Galuska, 39, a writer for “ The Bear ” on FX and “Big Mouth” on Netflix, who picketed at Fox Studios in Los Angeles. “It’s a turning point in the industry right now. And if we don’t get back to even, we never will.”
The Hollywood strike began when talks between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) failed to produce a new contract before the previous one expired on Tuesday.
All of the top late-night shows, which are staffed by writers who produce monologues and jokes to be used minutes to hours after their writing, immediately went dark, and plan to air re-runs through the coming weeks. The strike’s impact on scripted series and films will take longer to hit the screen, but production has already halted on forthcoming seasons of a few.
Streaming has exploded the number of series and films that are annually made, meaning more jobs for writers. But writers say they’ve been made to make less under shifting and insecure conditions that the WGA called “a gig economy inside a union workforce.”
The union is seeking more compensation for writers up front, because many of the payments writers have historically profited from on the back end — like syndication and international licensing — have been largely phased out by the onset of streaming.
Many younger writers like Kelly Galuska who have only written in the streaming era have never seen those kind of once common benefits. The industry has changed, and the contracts must too.
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