Hollywood writers, studios nearing agreement to end strike: Report

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Hollywood writers and studios are nearing an agreement to end the strike that has shut down the entertainment industry since May, sources tell CNBC.

In a brief but significant joint statement released after negotiations on Wednesday, both sides stated, “The WGA and AMPTP met for bargaining today and will meet again tomorrow.”

CNBC reports a deal will likely be finalized on Thursday.

While negotiators were optimistic, sources also told CNBC that if a deal was not reached soon the strike could last through the end of the year

The Writers Guild of America went on strike on May 2 and in a historic move, the Screen Actors Guild also joined writers on the picket line on July 14, marking the first time in over 60 years both unions have been on strike at the same time.

For striking writers, the two sides have been divided on issues of pay, the size of writing staffs on shows and the use of artificial intelligence. 

Nearly 20,000 writers have been without work or pay since May 2 as negotiations between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers halted over the summer. 

  • Striking Hotel workers from Unite Here Local 11 join the picketing actors of SAG-AFTRA, and writers of the WGA, outside Netflix studios on July 21, 2023, in Los Angeles. Some Democrats in the California Legislature are trying to change the law to make striking workers eligible for unemployment benefits. Business groups oppose the bill, noting California doesn't have enough money in its unemployment trust fund to pay for benefits now. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)
  • A sign reads "SAG-AFTRA Supports WGA" as SAG-AFTRA members walk the picket line in solidarity with striking WGA workers outside Netflix offices on July 11, 2023, in Los Angeles. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
  • A strike captain, right, leads the chants as strikers walk a picket line outside Warner Bros., Discovery, and Netflix offices in Manhattan, Friday, Aug. 18, 2023. The WGA and SAG-AFTRA held a joint Latine Picket, presented by the WGAE Latine Writers Salon, the WGAW Latinx Writers Committee, and the SAG-AFTRA National Latino Committee. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
  • FILE - SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher, left, and SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland speak during a press conference announcing a strike by The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists on July, 13, 2023, in Los Angeles. This marks the first time since 1960 that actors and writers will picket film and television productions at the same time. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)
  • SAG-AFTRA member Newt Kane walks on a picket line outside Fox studios on Monday, Aug. 14, 2023, in Los Angeles. The Hollywood writers strike passed the 100-day mark as the film and television industries remain paralyzed by dual actors and screenwriters strikes. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
  • SAG-AFTRA member Emily Kincaid dons a 100 on her face as she carries a sign on a picket line outside Netflix studios on Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2023, in Los Angeles. The Hollywood writers strike reached the 100-day mark today as the U.S. film and television industries remain paralyzed by dual actors and screenwriters strikes. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
  • A picketer carries a sign outside Netflix studios on Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2023, in Los Angeles. The Hollywood writers strike reached the 100-day mark today as the U.S. film and television industries remain paralyzed by dual actors and screenwriters strikes. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
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  • Striking writers and actors picket outside Paramount studios in Los Angeles on Friday, July 14, 2023. This marks the first day actors formally joined the picket lines, more than two months after screenwriters began striking in their bid to get better pay and working conditions. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
  • Actors and comedians Tina Fey, center, and Fred Armisen, right, join striking members of the Writers Guild of America on the picket line during a rally outside Silvercup Studios in New York on May 9, 2023. (Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press)
  • FILE - Striking Writers Guild members hold signs during a rally in front of Paramount Pictures studio in Los Angeles on May 17, 2023. Hollywood actors may be on the verge of joining screenwriters in what would be the first two-union strike in the industry in more than six decades. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)
  • Late night talk show host Seth Meyers, right, joins striking members of the Writers Guild of America on the picket line during a rally outside Silvercup Studios, Tuesday May 9, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
  • FILE - Members of the The Writers Guild of America picket outside Paramount Pictures on May 3, 2023, in Los Angeles. Hollywood productions and promotional tours around the world have been put on indefinite hold as actors and writers are on strike against big studios and streaming services.(AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

The two sides last met at the AMPTP headquarters in Sherman Oaks on Aug. 18. Following the hiatus, the two sides have met at the bargaining table once again, with both sides hopeful for a quick and fair resolution.

“I went in with eyes wide open that this wasn’t going to be an easy conversation for anyone involved,” said Maggie Gottlieb, a WGA writer. “I was sort of buckling down and preparing for a long strike because I know we are preparing for things that are going to benefit future generations of writers.”

Following a request to meet again earlier this week, the studios agreed. Some, however, are skeptical that a fair deal will be reached.

“Hopefully this ends sooner rather than later, but I have a healthy dose of skepticism,” said Alicia Carroll, a WGA Captain.

Insiders tell KTLA the talks were “very encouraging” so far and included a sit-down conversation with WGA, AMPTP and studios including Netflix, Walt Disney Company, Warner Bros. Discovery and Universal Television.

Writers are asking for protections against artificial intelligence, higher residual pay and viewership transparency from streaming services. Union members said they are prepared to stay on the picket lines until a fair deal is reached.

“We’re ready to fight for, not only for ourselves but for the people that come after us,” said Gottlieb.

“The WGA and AMPTP now have a confirmed schedule to bargain this week, starting on Wednesday,” the union said in a message to members. “You might not hear from us in the coming days while we are negotiating, but know that our focus is getting a fair deal for writers as soon as possible.”

Governor Gavin Newsom said the actors and writers strike have cost the California economy more than $5 billion since the start.

He said he’s been in communication with both sides in an effort to bring the strikes to a close.

“I’m encouraged by the conversations over this last weekend. I’m not going to overstate that, and I’m encouraged that they’re meeting again later this week,” Newsom told CNN’s Dana Bash.

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