Producers of television talk shows are gearing up for a return to the airwaves for the first time in five months, following a tentative deal reached by Hollywood writers to end a work stoppage that had halted production. The Writers Guild of America (WGA), representing around 11,500 film and Hollywood writers, has secured a preliminary three-year agreement with major studios. The deal is now pending approval by the union’s leadership and members.
Partial Resumption of Production:
While actors remain on strike, late-night and daytime talk shows are making preparations to resume production once their writers receive the green light from the union to return to work in the coming days or weeks. For instance, The Drew Barrymore Show is aiming to be back on the air in October.
Backlash and Readjustments:
Notably, Drew Barrymore’s initial announcement of returning in mid-September had sparked a backlash, leading to a change in the show’s schedule.
Late-night shows like Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon have not provided comments on when they will air new episodes.
Scripted Series Await Actor Agreements:
The resumption of filming for scripted series is contingent on an agreement between the SAG-AFTRA actors’ union and studios.
Actors had gone on strike in July, seeking higher wages and limitations on the use of artificial intelligence on screen.
Film and television producer Todd Garner drew a parallel between the current situation in Hollywood and the congestion of cargo ships during the pandemic in the port of Long Beach, southern California.
He stated, “That’s our business right now. I’m guessing there are 250 ships in the harbor right now.”
Sequence of Projects:
Major television shows and films have contractual priority with actors, meaning work on incomplete projects, such as the movie “Mortal Kombat 2,” must be finished before new ventures can commence. Garner explained that until the logjam of existing projects is cleared, nothing new will be started, except for those involving actors who weren’t previously committed to other work.
Impact on Media Stocks:
The ongoing strikes have impacted media company stocks. Warner Bros Discovery’s stock was down 3.2%, and Walt Disney’s dropped by 0.5% in afternoon trading. Paramount Global shares remained flat.
Investors are concerned about the financial consequences of the strikes, which initially boosted cash flows due to reduced spending but have now begun to eat into earnings. The tentative deal with writers will shift the focus onto actors’ demands, and studios and streaming services will be eager to provide new content to attract audiences to both big and small screens.