Hollywood Writers

The Hollywood Writers Strike Ends: A New Chapter for Late-Night TV and Writers

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In a significant turn of events, the Hollywood writers’ strike has officially come to an end, opening doors for actors to negotiate their deals with studios and streaming platforms. The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Radio and Television Artists (SAG-AFTRA) has announced the resumption of strike negotiations with studios. A development that follows last week’s marathon sessions that played a pivotal role in concluding the nearly five-month-long writers’ strike.

Late-Night TV Makes a Comeback

Coinciding with these developments, network late-night hosts are set to make their triumphant return to the airwaves. The renowned Bill Maher led the charge, announcing the revival of his HBO show, “Real Time with Bill Maher,” for this Friday. Following suit, other late-night hosts, including NBC’s. “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” and CBS’s “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” will also resume their broadcasts, all by Monday. Additionally, “Last Week Tonight” with John Oliver is scheduled to return this Sunday.

The Impact of Strikes on Late-Night TV

The Hollywood writers’ strike has taken a toll on late-night television, with a “catastrophic” impact on viewership, according to research firm Samba TV. Late-night shows, including those hosted by Colbert, Fallon, and Kimmel, have experienced a decline in viewership ranging from 40% to 50%. Ashwin Navin, Samba TV co-founder, expressed concerns about the industry’s ability to rebound to its former prominence in the wake of this decline.

During the strike, late-night hosts, including Fallon, Meyers, Kimmel, Colbert, and Oliver, joined forces to create the popular podcast “Strike Force Five,” named after their personal text chain. The podcast’s proceeds were dedicated to supporting their out-of-work writers. On Wednesday, they proudly announced the successful accomplishment of their mission.

A Glimmer of Hope

While late-night TV hosts are resuming their shows, scripted series will take a bit longer to return due to the actors’ strikes. However, there is renewed hope with plans for resumed negotiations. Significantly, there had been no official contact between SAG-AFTRA and the studio alliance negotiating contracts since the strike commenced on July 14.

The first round of negotiations during the writers’ strike last month faced challenges. Leading to another month-long hiatus before both parties reconvened. However, the talks that resumed last week remarkably resulted in a deal within just five days.

A Positive Outcome for Writers

Board members from the writers’ union approved the contract agreement with studios on Tuesday night. Marking a crucial step towards reviving an industry that had been at a historic standstill for nearly five months. The three-year agreement addresses key concerns of writers:

•  Compensation

•  Length of employment

•  Staff sizes

•  Control of artificial intelligence

In these areas, writers secured substantial victories, closely aligning with their initial strike demands. Compensation and future residual earnings from shows will see increases ranging from 3.5% to 5%, surpassing the studios’ initial offers.

Additionally, the guild successfully negotiated new residual payments tied to the popularity of streaming shows. Writers will now receive bonuses for their involvement in the most popular shows on platforms like Netflix, HBO Max, and others, a proposal initially rejected by studios.

Importantly, writers also achieved regulation and control over artificial intelligence in their contracts. Under the agreement, raw AI-generated storylines will no longer be categorized as “literary material”. Or “source” material, ensuring that writers won’t compete with computers for screen credits. AI-generated stories will also not be considered “source” material, protecting writers‘ contractual rights for novels, video games, or other adaptations.

Writers now have the option to use artificial intelligence in their creative process, subject to company agreements and other conditions. However, companies are prohibited from mandating writers to use artificial intelligence.

A New Beginning

As the entertainment industry bounces back from the strike, late-night TV hosts return to entertain audiences. Writers secure significant wins, and the future of Hollywood content creation appears poised for innovation and growth.

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