List of no-shows grows as US writers strike for ‘fair deal’

Hosting a White House screening of an upcoming Disney+ series, US President Joe Biden used the occasion to speak for the first time about the writers strike crippling TV and film studio productions across the country.

A week after the Writers Guild of America called for a strike on May 2, when contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) broke down, several high-profile late-night TV shows, films and drama series have gone dark or been substantially delayed.

The list of shutdowns grows by the day, but there is some good news with two blockbuster productions and a long-awaited film going ahead.

In the East Room on May 8 (US time), before cast members and producers including Oscar winner Ke Huy Quan (Everything Everywhere All At Once) introduce American Born Chinese, Mr Biden called for a “fair deal” for Hollywood’s striking writers.

“My name is Joe Biden,” the President said.

“I have never won an Academy Award. I can’t act worth a damn. Can’t sing, can’t dance, can’t do much of anything. But it is good to be with all of you.

“Nights like these are a reminder of stories and the importance of treating storytellers with the dignity, respect and the value they deserve.

“I sincerely hope the writers strike in Hollywood gets resolved, and the writers are given a fair deal they deserve as soon as possible.”

‘Iconic, meaningful industry’

“This is an iconic, meaningful American industry. And we need the writers and all the workers and everyone involved to tell the stories of our nation and the stories of all of us,” President Biden said.

More than 11,000 Hollywood television and movie writers remain on strike – their first in 15 years – and continue to picket outside the major studios in Los Angeles and New York.

The late-night talk shows including Saturday Night Live (SNL), Jimmy Kimmel Live!, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Late Night with Seth Meyers, Real Time with Bill Maher, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and The Daily Show were immediately affected last week.

They’ve gone dark and are broadcasting re-runs.

Fans of Stranger Things will have to wait for the fifth and final season, according to creators and brothers Matt and Ross Duffer.

“Writing does not stop when filming begins,” the Duffers posted on the Stranger Things writers’ room Twitter account.

Casts and crews back strike

“While we’re excited to start production with our amazing cast and crew, it is not possible during this strike. We hope a fair deal is reached soon so we can all get back to work. Until then – over and out.”

Season two of Severance (Apple TV+), currently in production in New York, “has paused” amid WGA members picketing NYC’s York Studios.

Hacks series co-creator Jen Statsky posted on Twitter that Season 3 of the comedy series halted production.

“We are devastated to not be with our incredible crew and cast right now, but there was no other option here,” she wrote.

“Writing happens at every stage of the process – production and post included. It’s what makes shows and movies good. It’s what makes them possible.”

Writing rooms for Yellowjackets, Cobra Kai and Abbott Elementary lasted less than a day last week after the strike went ahead, with cast and crew joining picket lines and social media to demand better pay and conditions for writers.

Horror anthology series, American Horror Story: Delicate (FX), starring Kim Kardashian, Emma Roberts and Cara Delevingne shut down at Silvercup Studios.

Delays on production will inevitably mean a longer wait time on release schedules, with speculation the next seasons won’t be available for months, or even into early 2024.

The long-delayed Disney live-action Blade reboot starring Oscar winner Mahershala Ali hit yet another production snag amid the WGA strike.

The Marvel movie was slated to begin filming in June in Atlanta, but cast and crew members were notified of a delay until the strike ends.

Production on Deadpool 3, starring Ryan Reynolds with Hugh Jackman returning as Wolverine, will go ahead in coming weeks, but no “minor adjustments in dialogue or narration” can be made (like those ad lib quips he’s known for).

Some good news

According to a report in Deadline, the next seasons of HBO’s House of the Dragon (Game of Thrones prequel), and Amazon’s Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power will remain in production in the UK.

House of the Dragon scripts were finished before the strike and the second season is shooting in London and Wales.

Lord of the Rings is also in production on Season 2, with 19 days of filming remaining so production has also not been affected.

Game of Thrones creator, George RR Martin wrote on his recent blog post he hoped the AMPTP members “will come to their senses tomorrow and offer some meaningful concessions, and the whole thing can be wrapped up”.

“I would not bet the ranch on that, however.

“I have been through several of these since I first started writing for television and film in 1986. The 1988 strike, the first I was a part of, lasted 22 weeks, the longest in Hollywood history. The 2007-08 strike, the most recent, went for 100 days. This one may go longer.”

Martin said the scripts for the second season of House of the Dragon “were all finished months ago, long before the strike began”.

“Every episode has gone through four or five drafts and numerous rounds of revisions, to address HBO notes, my notes, budget concerns.

“There will be no further revisions. The writers have done their jobs; the rest is in the hands of the directors, cast and crew … and, of course, the dragons.”

Topics: Hollywood
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