All major late-night shows were forced to shut down production as thousands of film and television writers staged a walkout on Tuesday over pay disputes and artificial intelligence concerns.
Jimmy Fallon’s “The Tonight Show,” “The Late Show” with Stephen Colbert, “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and “Late Night with Seth Meyers” halted production this week after 11,500 unionized screenwriters walked off the job following unsuccessful contract negotiations between the Writers Guild of America and the studios.
After the existing contract expired on Tuesday and the parties failed to agree on a new three-year contract, WGA’s board of directors voted unanimously to strike for the first time in 15 years. The previous strike in 2007 lasted 100 days.
During a Monday taping of Colbert’s show, he addressed the potential upcoming strike and voiced support for the show’s writers.
“I also think that the writers’ demands are not unreasonable,” he stated.
Writers represented by the union overwhelmingly supported the Tuesday strike, with 98% voting to head to the picket line.
According to a statement released by the WGA, the union had been in negotiations for the last six weeks with Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Disney, Discovery-Warner, NBC Universal, Paramount, and Sony.
WGA called the studios’ response to its proposals “wholly insufficient” and noted that writers face an “existential crisis.”
“The companies’ behavior has created a gig economy inside a union workforce, and their immovable stance in this negotiation has betrayed a commitment to further devaluing the profession of writing,” the statement read. “From their refusal to guarantee any level of weekly employment in episodic television, to the creation of a ‘day rate’ in comedy variety, to their stonewalling on free work for screenwriters and on AI for all writers, they have closed the door on their labor force and opened the door to writing as an entirely freelance profession.”
The WGA argued that streaming services had impacted the industry and that the previous contract reflected an old system of compensation for screenwriters that is no longer adequate. For example, the union claimed that showrunners for streaming series earn 46% of the compensation of their broadcast series counterparts.
The trade association representing the studios, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, said it offered “generous increases in compensation … as well as improvements in streaming residuals.”
The association added that it had considered improving its offer “but was unwilling to do so because the magnitude of other proposals still on the table that the guild continues to insist upon.”
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