Striking writers, actors block part of Lankershim Boulevard near Universal Studios

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Friday, August 4, 2023
Striking writers, actors block part of Lankershim Boulevard
Thousands of striking writers and actors blocked part of Lankershim Boulevard near Universal Studios.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Thousands of striking writers and actors blocked part of Lankershim Boulevard near Universal Studios. This came as the Writers Guild and studios returned to the table Friday morning to discuss resuming negotiations.

The meeting was simply to discuss whether there would be future negotiations. It was a good first step, but the two sides are still very far apart.

The tensions are at a high following three months of picketing for the writers.

It was a massive turnout Friday as thousands marched along Lankershim Boulevard. From AIR7 HD, you could see that for a short while they took over the street, blocking traffic. Members of SAG-AFTRA and the Writers Guild wanted to show solidarity.

Members of The Writers Guild have been on strike since May 2 - more than 90 days. That's historically when contracts have a clause that studios can use to terminate agreements.

David Poland/ columnist 'The Hot Button'

the AMPTP side is now interested in talking again, is because now they've cleared that particular hurdle, which their members wanted to clear. So I think you're gonna see a bunch of cancellations of deals and things like that in the next couple of weeks.

For now, the two sides are still far apart on issues such as staffing minimums as well as residuals.

And while the studios have reached out to the writers, SAG-AFTRA chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland says they haven't tried to contact them.

"We've been on strike 22 days now. I have not heard one peep out of the AMPTP," he said. "I've been telling anyone who will listen that we've been ready, able and willing to go back to the bargaining table since July 12."

The two sides exchanged jabs Thursday, with the WGA negotiating committee sending an email that called on studios to abandon a so-called "anti-union playbook." The studios fired back, saying its only playbook is getting people back to work.

In its Thursday message to union members, the WGA negotiating committee praised writers' resolve and blasted suggestions the walkout was having limited impact on studios due to content stockpiles held by streaming services, and that a protracted strike might be "good for the companies financially" because they can "write off their losses."

"This is calculated disinformation about the real impact of the ongoing strikes," according to the WGA statement. "We have shut down production. Union writers and actors are so essential in this industry that the companies cannot even attempt to do the work without us. It is not a viable business strategy for these companies to shut down their business for three months and counting no matter how much they try and pretend it is."

City News Service contributed to this report.