Hi. It’s been a minute since you’ve heard from me. I moved cross-country and we’re still trying to get on our feet. But, with the looming SAG-AFTRA strike, I couldn’t let this moment in film history go by and remain quiet.
I remember the writers strike in 2007 and the fallout from that. Shows that were cancelled, people displaced from work, and the creation of the flood of reality television that we are now completely engulfed in. The WGA is striking again, after putting off negotiations for several years due to the pandemic. Giving the Alliance for Motion Picture & Television Producers that lead time may have been detrimental, and not just to the Writer’s Guild, but to the entertainment industry as a whole. The industry that gives Los Angeles, California it’s lifeblood is at risk due to one thing: Greed. And plenty of SAG-AFTRA members see this, which is why they voted, in large, to strike. It wasn’t this “small militant group” of union members, like top executives want everyone to believe.
Many within the industry that gives Los Angeles, California its name and stature can barely afford to live there, if at all. As a writer in the entertainment industry, you can make $200,000 in one year and $30,000 in the next. , usually in one large lump sum. There is no way to be stable on that in that city. Period. The writers are asking AMPTP for mere pennies compared to what they make in any given year and more stability.
I don’t think people realize that residuals, like those that writers/actors/etc get when something they’ve done airs on television, are not a thing when it comes to streamers. All of these studios have worked tremendously hard to destroy syndicated television with all of their streaming platforms and they’ve very nearly done it. And, with that, an income stream is completely shut off (if you can even call it that for some, as the residuals they get can be literal pennies). This is one of the reasons that the looming SAG AFTRA strike is so interesting. The last time both WGA and SAG-AFTRA went on strike together was in the 1960s. That’s how they were able to set up residuals and the like.
AI is another topic that both unions are concerned about, especially considering the lawsuit that Sarah Silverman is currently involved in, suing OpenAI and Meta for copyright infringement and the like, since the AI tool has to learn from somewhere and that “somewhere” is old footage, writings, etc. Honestly, I’m interested to see where this one goes, because it would be a huge win, this lawsuit. It would be monumental. I’m all for it. Especially after seeing the dead look in “young” Harrison Ford’s eyes in the new Indiana Jones movie, but I digress.
Corporate greed is fueling this want to use AI in every aspect of the film industry, from writing to editing to even acting. They don’t want to pay those that are ultimately making them money. They want to cut out the middleman to make a quicker buck. It is disgusting and is a low point for the creativity of humankind.
What is even more fascinating to me is watching this entire industry be destroyed by one man’s greed and incompetence. Can you guess who it is? I bet you already know.
David Zaslav, the current CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, is really doing a number. So many of his decisions have had disastrous consequences for the entertainment industry as a whole, not just for the writers. The dismantling of HBO being one of the biggest ones, as all HBO contracts for residuals become null and void with HBO gone from the streaming giants name. Which is an insane move, hurting all those that helped to make them the giant that they are today. Not surprising for Hollywood, though, to be honest.
With the news of the AMPTPs intentions with the WGA, we have really revealed a true monster. AMPTP intends to wait out the writer’s strike. Wait until people have lost their jobs, have lost their homes, have lost everything. Then, they’ll come back to the table to negotiate. Meanwhile, for SAG-AFTRA, major studio executives have requested to meet today with a federal mediator in hopes of coming to an agreement by midnight tonight. Top executives from every major player are involved: Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos, Disney Entertainment co-chairs Dana Walden and Alan Bergman, leaders from Apple and Paramount and, of course, David Zaslav. SAG-AFTRA agreeing to the federal mediator is nerve wracking. For, if they reach a deal for their contract, it’s seemingly over for the writers. The lack of respect that the industry has for those that write our very content is insane. Like, jaw droppingly insane.
Greed will destroy the entertainment industry. Greed will destroy Los Angeles. Greed is destroying all of us.