Hollywood Strike: Writers Demand More Pay, New Limits on ChatGPT
Thousands of television and movie writers represented by the union Writers Guild of America (WGA) went on strike yesterday. It’s the first big Hollywood walkout since 2007, when some 12,000 members stopped working for 100 days.
Today’s strikers are demanding higher pay, plus minimum numbers of writers staffing writers’ rooms (called “mandatory staffing” by studios and “preserving the writers’ room” by the union). On a less familiar note, they’re demanding that use of artificial intelligence in the production of “literary materials”—scripts, treatments, outlines—be restricted, whether that A.I. is used to write works or to generate story ideas.
Though WGA writers make, on average, an eye-popping $250,000 a year, the structure of writers’ rooms is such that most creatives go through boom and bust times. Those checks that come in while working on a 10-episode TV season must also sustain them during long droughts.
Residuals—payments from reuse of material, be that syndicated reruns or in-flight entertainment—used to help writers withstand those droughts. But in the streaming era, which pays residuals at a much lower rate, many writers say they’re feeling a squeeze. (The WGA secured residuals from streaming in the 2007 negotiations, but not at the same rate they were used to from cable and network TV.)
“I do worry that some of my fellow writers—especially younger ones who joined during the streaming-driven boom years, when the number of writers in the W.G.A. reporting earnings grew from 4,500 to more than 6,000—have unrealistic ideas about what a successful negotiation can accomplish,” writes Zack Stentz, Thor and X-Men screenwriter, in The New York Times. “No contract can bring back the 1990s model of shows that ran 22-episode seasons for eight years, or fully reinflate the 2010s streaming bubble. Whether we win concessions from the studios at the bargaining table or even through a strike, the brutal reality remains that, going forward, there will likely be fewer well-paying jobs in a volatile industry that may force us to hustle for work more than ever.”
The WGA strike will likely have far-reaching consequences, possibly even beyond the unthinkably awful storylines that came out of ’07. Whether the union can secure its A.I. moratorium or not, ChatGPT and its kin are likely to change the in
Article from Reason.com