“Last, best, and final.” Really?
That’s what the AMPTP reportedly called its latest offer to the WGA, which has a “take it or leave it” ring to it, but it does appear as though the WGA is ready to take it — and with that… victory.
The scorecard — i.e. the actual deal — has yet to be revealed, but after showing unprecedented unity on the picket lines for the past five months, the writers seem to have finally broken the studios, who are only back at the negotiating table for one reason — by now, they have to be.
Believe me, if the studios could afford to have this drag on until January, they’d do it. At this point, why wouldn’t they? But they have to restart the pipeline in order to salvage half of the network TV season, which is what I think this ending ultimately boils down to. Streamers have such a deep library, and so long as they drop one major series per quarter, they were always the best positioned to withstand the impact of Hollywood’s double strike.
Netflix can march into Toronto and outbid the competition for two of the festival’s hottest titles. But the networks are barely hanging on as it is, and they can’t afford to spend an entire year hawking game shows and the like. NBC needs shows like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit back on the air come February.
So yes, the Writers Strike is coming to an end, if not tomorrow, then almost certainly by Tuesday, as I’m told that the studios want this wrapped up by Sept. 30, which marks the end of the fiscal year. I’m also told that the WGA is currently working out when its members will be allowed to return to work once a deal is tentatively reached and that it’s expected that pens and pencils will remain down until the new three-year contract is ratified, which could take a week or even two.
Furthermore, once the AMPTP reaches a deal with the WGA, I’m told a deal with SAG-AFTRA will come quickly — perhaps as soon as two to three weeks later.
The studios have been negotiating with the WGA in good faith for the past four days, despite AMPTP leaks to CNBC’s David Faber that a deal had to come by the end of Wednesday or else there would be no deal until January — a noble but ultimately futile attempt from AMPTP publicist Molly Levinson.
As it turns out, both sides issued a joint statement on Saturday evening, confirming that they’ll meet again on Sunday, when a deal is expected to be reached. That would give some CEOs the chance to atone for their sins the following day on Yom Kippur.
And oh, what sins they are.
People have lost their homes during this strike. Others have lost their jobs, and with them, their life savings. And the lives this strike has changed for the worse will be chalked up to collateral damage. All because Hollywood’s CEOs insist on being paid tens of millions of dollars, and in some cases, hundreds of millions. I’m not sure that things will ever go back to the way they were now that the industry’s labor force has seen how little its employers care about them.
Whether the WGA will ultimately give the AMPTP a thumbs up regarding its latest proposal remains to be seen, but I don’t think either side is eager to drag this out any further. Both sides finally appear to be on the same page, with thorny A.I. issues supposedly resolved and lawyers now hammering out the language, plus a new success-based residual for streaming content on the table, and an agreement regarding minimum staffing numbers on TV shows.
But I keep coming back to “last, best, and final” — four words that make it seem like the writers have no choice to accept the proposed deal when really, it’s the studios that have no choice but to wave the white flag. The AMPTP made for a formidable opponent, but in the end, it all starts on the page, and without writers, these executives are nothing — and they know it.
May the t’s now get crossed and the lower-case j’s get dotted — shout out to Wayne’s World 2 actor Kevin Pollak and writers Mike Myers, Bonnie Turner, and Terry Turner!