Illustration by Zohar Lazar
Now, Warren Leight – Veteran Playmaker Law & Order: Special Victims Unit And the Writers Guild hits the captain – he loses sleep to make sure a TV show doesn’t air. He is a key figure in his syndicate pivoting to adopt a more targeted sit-down strategy, which seeks to shut down production.
“This morning we had twenty people at 2 am on the street, forbidden Billionswhich is figuratively perfect,” he said Hollywood Reporter‘s Top 5 TV Shows Podcast on May 24, discussing the recent expansion from show-of-force protests at corporate headquarters to more disruptive actions intended to affect bottom line and redirect power dynamics. The change in strategy has stemmed from the rank and file of the members, he says, though now union officers “realise that this is a very powerful thing”.
Drawing on his connections from his long history as a television writer and presenter as well as his notable social media fame, Light, along with a growing number of his WGA peers, helped organize a series of successful labor actions – small groups that assemble within hours, who often Protest lines are often respected (and sometimes joined) by Teamsters, IATSE members, and other sympathetic allies. The result is a halt in production. The whole idea is a dump [content] He says.
Lockdowns have crossed the country, from Looting And Good problem in Los Angeles to Chi in chicago and Evil in New York.
Earlier in May, the writers chose to shoot writer-director Aziz Ansari’s Lionsgate in Los Angeles. good fortune for about two and a half days, until production was suspended indefinitely on May 19. Picketer Kyra Jones (I wake upAnd Queens) These actions say “Hit [employers] In the pockets is harder than anything else we do. Hopefully, that will get them back on track and get us back in business.” Lauren Kuhn adds (The missing symbol), who also joined in good fortune The picket line was, “We have to make sure no writing happens across the board.”
The focus on closing, which relies on the cooperation of fellow workplace unions, is a remarkable shift for the Writers Guild. During its previous strike in 2007-2008, when it found itself far more isolated and at odds with its nominal worker allies, there was no similar strategy. Now the union finds itself the beneficiary of unity, in keeping with the Hollywood gathering of workers divided by other unions, each nursing their own set of sometimes overlapping grievances and anxious to smooth the floor for their own contract negotiations. For its part, the WGA declined to “discuss the details” of the closure strategy.
On average, a lost day of production costs companies between $200,000 and $300,000. Lockouts caused by a strike are not covered by insurance policies. Industry-leading insurance company Allianz notes that THRIt is still early days, and it is too early to speculate on any impact on future insurance premiums.
Like the recent impact of the pandemic on studio listings, some of the work-in-progress abandoned during the strike may not return when it ends, the company’s top decision-makers say. Considerations will include the number of episodes left to shoot in the season, the availability of actors and the relevance of the show to its platform.
Several high-level executives with whom they spoke THR On condition of anonymity, he used the same word to describe the guerrilla’s activities: “effective.” It prompted an ongoing game of cat and mouse. WGA members’ rapid response units move to picket at studio gates and on filming locations based on information. Although Los Angeles location clearances are public record (notices of live filming are posted before production, while production activity is released 48 hours after it ends), at least some actionable information, especially more accurate last-minute information, arises from Empathy members of other unions.
Picking shifts often start, end, or run through the night to ensure their lines are not crossed. To counter these efforts, some products have circulated call statements that contain incorrect call times, and in case Billionstransported crew members to the spot, presumably to ease their way through the picket lines and allow some anonymity.
Jones recalls appearing in one targeted production sit-down at Raleigh Hollywood Studios and finding no production activity happening. “Nobody came—either they fended off the shooting or moved elsewhere, or maybe we got the wrong information,” she says.
Lindsay Dougherty, the leader of the Hollywood Teamsters whose drivers have stayed away from picket lines (her organization is set to negotiate with AMPTP next year), says she’s not surprised by the WGA’s move to shut down production. “If this were our strike,” she says, “we would do the same.”
Key grip and stunt pitches Wade Cordts is in charge of a Facebook group that has become a conduit for production information from crew members to WGA collectors. He believes the outrage across the industry has created a unique moment of solidarity. “Now, everyone’s ‘below the line,'” notes Cordets, who is a member of both SAG-AFTRA and IATSE. “It’s these giant corporations that are trying to crack labor.”
One programmer notes that the shutdowns are holding back crew members from working on projects for which writers have already been paid. “Who really hurts?” they say. “Does this really hurt the studios? Not real.” The sentiment is echoed by a senior production executive on another deal, who adds, “It’s all expense-driven. It saves them taxes.”
The veteran model and longtime WGA member doesn’t buy into the idea that there’s any upside for the studios, given this spin. “If it was a matter of saving them money, closing all the shows and getting out of showbiz would save them all the money,” says this person. Another seasoned studio player agrees, pointing out that any financial rise is short term: “The whole point of a studio is to be in production. There were expectations of what those [stopped] Offers will be given to us. This is a loss.”
Regardless, labor experts note that for the writers and their union, the shutdown is more broadly about flexing their muscles, cultivating their alliances and lifting their spirits.
“It halts production, but it’s also a way to advertise strength and resolve,” explains Michael Kazin, a professor at Georgetown University who studies the power of unions.
Adds University of Rhode Island Professor Eric Loomis, author of the book History of America in Ten Strokes: “Maintaining morale is paramount. Otherwise, people run away – they look for other work, they cross the picket line.”
Joshua P. Freeman, a professor at the City University of New York who researches factory work, agrees. “Doing something as a group really maintains solidarity,” he says, and closing production in the entertainment sector, which requires the cooperation of workers in other unions, fosters camaraderie. “If you look at the long-term power dynamic between these workers and these employers, the visible solidarity shows the employer that they are not dealing with just one isolated group. They are facing everyone.”
As Dougherty, president of The Hollywood Teamsters, said regarding the writers’ tacit and public support for the shutdown strategy, “It’s a sacrifice that everyone is making because everyone wants to end the strike as quickly as possible. That’s the hope – that all productions come back soon, because these projects matter.” Clearly for employers.”
A version of this story first appeared in the May 31 issue of The Hollywood Reporter. Click here to subscribe.