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As the Writers Guild of America and the Motion Picture and Television Producers Alliance continue to negotiate a new contract, the prospect of a labor strike, the first for writers in 15 years, looms.
The union has a broad set of priorities for the negotiations, ranging from a higher minimum wage and greater protection for writers who are forced into a shorter-running TV series for long periods, to “addressing abuses of mini-series.” rooms” and regulate the use of material produced by artificial intelligence programs.
The WGA contract expires on May 1, and unless an agreement is reached, the writers could leave soon after. However, even before the two sides began to negotiate, TV networks and broadcasters began taking steps to ensure that the content pipeline does not dry out, at least for a while, in the event of a strike. These are some of the ways they are preparing for a possible strike.
Early renovations and ongoing writers rooms
The May 1 deadline for the WGA contract comes at the end of the 2022-23 television season, when nearly all of the network’s prime-time shows will wrap up production and within a few weeks at the latest. seasonal. Streaming services also have a number of shows already finished and ready to go for several months after the contract deadline. However, late-night shows could quickly get dark with Saturday night lives writers who don’t write sketches and talk shows like The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Late Night with Seth Meyers missing both the staff who write their jokes and probably a host of guests in other industry unions who wouldn’t cross the picket lines.
The real effects of any prolonged labor action (the 2007-2008 strike lasted 100 days) would likely be most noticeable in the fall, when dozens of shows start new seasons. As protection against a prolonged strike, broadcast networks have delivered more advance renewals than in a typical year: CBS has already acquired the bulk of its primetime slate, and Fox has renewed three dramas (accused, alert and the cleaning lady) and much of his line animation (see below). Early withdrawals may, in turn, keep writers’ rooms open and bank scripts for upcoming seasons of those shows, allowing production to pick up quickly once the strike ends (assuming the Directors Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA, whose contracts expire at the end of June, will not also strike). And yes, although early renewals should be taken as a vote of confidence: the breakup of Quinta Brunson Abbott Elementary it was resumed in January; not all will continue through the typical summer hiatus period. NBC’s first renewal this season was for rookie quantum leap, a surprise considering the pickups for all six of Dick Wolf’s shows have yet to arrive. NBCUniversal’s Susan Rovner recognized the great Leap it was actually because of a possible work stoppage. “That’s because we can stay in continuous production right now ahead of a potential writers’ strike. That is also a shorter order,” he said. TV’s top 5. “Dick Wolf does 22-episode shows, so there’s not the same continuous production opportunity there.”
Unscripted shows, which are not covered by the WGA agreement, carried the television media for much of the last strike and would likely take on a similar role this time around. Summer is already prime territory for unscripted series, but there could be some changes afoot as programmers set their summer slates. CBS has already opted to end the first season of its game show. Jargon after eight episodes, instead of the 12 he ordered. The remaining four will be added to the show’s second season in 2023-24, giving the network many more hours to use as needed.
ABC, the first station to announce summer premiere dates, has a jam-packed schedule of game shows as usual, but held off on setting a date for its miniature golf competition. holey moley and single in paradise. The latter aired in the fall of 2022, and both could be up for grabs in the fourth quarter of this year should the strike drag out. And in the event of a prolonged work interruption, viewers are likely to expect a wave of documentaries and docuseries, already a mainstay of most streaming platforms, on streamers as scripted production declines.
Broadcasters will also have fall unscripted staples like Survivor (CBS), The voice (NBC) and the masked singer (Fox) to serve as programming anchors regardless of a strike.
Streamers and broadcast networks have also used the lessons of the pandemic-related production stoppage to prepare for potential labor disputes. Fox, for example, highlighted production-related challenges due to COVID-19 for its decision to push rookies. Monarch to September 2022 instead of releasing it in January of that year. The network recently launched Dan Harmon’s animated comedy Krapopolis to the 2023-24 broadcast season, giving Fox an entire season to use as potential filler. NBC did the same with the Greg Berlanti-produced drama. Found, which Rovner has high hopes for based on his creativity. Streamers are doing the same, too: Apple TV+, for example, recently moved the second season of the breakout sitcom. the after party from a late April debut through July, which while it may have something to do with the Emmy window, it definitely doesn’t hurt them to have popular originals at a time when others don’t.
Increasing the volume of the animation
Fox, who bought bob’s burgers the animation house Bento Box a few years ago, has continued to accumulate animated originals since the genre, in success, can be a source of income. (See Rick and Morty, family guy merchandising). With animated shows taking much longer to produce, Fox and various streamers have been rapidly investing in the space. With the long lead time, it’s only fair to expect a number of animated shows to help prop up Fox’s schedule in case a strike impacts live-action originals on the network and elsewhere. While the animation takes longer to produce, the scripts are done well in advance, and the overhead costs associated with them are much cheaper than live-action originals. Given entertainment companies’ biggest mandates to cut costs — CBS’ Blue blood is cutting pay for actors and producers by 25 percent, according to sources — animation’s price tag and lucrative merchandising opportunities make animation a safer, cheaper bet.
Remember during the early days of the pandemic how Fox aired the old original Spectrum drama The best of Los Angeles? Expect more of that, only now it’s probably coming from the networks’ own walled gardens. Freeform announced that it would broadcast the original Hulu how i met your father starting in April and continuing until the end of May. hbo originals True Blood and Silicon Valley began airing on TBS in February when Warner Bros. Discovery experimented with using library content to keep viewers tuned in to its fading cable networks that no longer have any US-produced originals in the works. . This trend is not only cheaper to schedule, but also effectively serves as a free promotional tool to get new HBO Max subscribers. If this trend sounds familiar, it should: During the 2007-08 WGA strike, CBS aired edited episodes of Showtime’s Right handed.