Hollywood studios outline response to striking writers-union members

Christiane Cordero Image
Friday, May 5, 2023
Studios outline response to striking Hollywood writers' concerns
On the third day of the Hollywood writers strike, the studios publicly outlined for the first time a response to issues raised by picketing union members.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- On the third day of the Hollywood writers strike, the studios went on the offensive, publicly outlining for the first time a response to issues raised by picketing union members.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers released a statement refuting some financial claims made by the Writers Guild of America and claiming that it has made a very generous offer.

The alliance says the package includes the largest first-year pay increase in 25 years. And it says writers' demands for minimum staffing levels and guarantees of employment are incompatible with the creative needs of the changing industry.

And regarding writers' concerns about artificial intelligence potentially replacing some of their jobs, the AMPTP says it is a complicated issue that needs further discussion, but notes that writers also want to be allowed to use AI as part of their creative process.

In the meantime, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass says she plans to help foster negotiations but does not plan to take sides.

"I'm not going to take a side either way," Bass told Eyewitness News. "I think it's important that I remain neutral and open and in conversation with everyone."

Studio statement:

At the core of the disputes is how writers get paid.

The rise of streaming means more shows, but shorter seasons and fewer episodes. That means less work for writers who are typically paid by the episode.

But the AMPTP says the median number of weeks a writer is employed ranges from 20 to 24... earning them close to if not more than a six-figure salary.

The AMPTP says the studios have also agreed to increase the minimum rates writers get paid to work on developing before a commitment to a full series has been made. That includes an offer of rates around $10,000 to $11,000 per week in the first year of the agreement.

Still writers note that while weekly rates may seem high to some people, in reality most writers don't work steadily.

"We have talked to many members who have to take second jobs just to live," said Nicole Yorkin, a member of the WGA's negotiating team. "They work 10 weeks, which seems like you make a lot of money for 10 weeks but they don't work the rest of the year and how can you live on that?"

Writer Emily Kim is three years into her career - but has been involved in WGA issues for much longer than that.

As a 9-year-old, she held a picket sign for her father Albert during the 2007 WGA strike.

Now she's appearing in the same spot as a member herself.

And the job has changed significantly for writers since her father went on strike more than 15 years ago.

"The biggest thing is me and most of my friends at my level we don't get to go to set and so we don't get a lot of experience the way writers used to," she said.

Albert Kim says he was able to get a broader range of experience in the industry when he was an up-and-coming writer.

"If you don't have younger writers like Emily learn that process of how to produce a television show, become showrunners, you're sacrificing the future," Albert Kim said. "And that's what they (the studios) don't seem to understand."