Disney & HBO Demand WGA Showrunners Still Continue To Work Amid Writers Strike

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Major studios like Disney and HBO have demanded that showrunners in the Writer’s Guild of America return to work amid the massive writers strike. The WGA officially went on strike on May 2, meaning that film and television writers who are a part of the guild have walked out of current projects, and will be on strike until a fair deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) can be reached. The WGA is negotiating on major issues such as better pay and job security.

In a report first obtained by THR, Disney imprint ABC Signature first sent letters to showrunners who are also members of the WGA on May 3, demanding that they return to their showrunning duties. Other major studios have done the same, including HBO/HBO Max and CBS Studios. Disney’s letter to showrunners says that while they may be a part of the WGA and can strike on their writing work, they should still be performing their other duties, citing a personal services agreement that says the WGA cannot fine them for continuing to work. Read an excerpt from Disney’s letter below:

“We want specifically to reiterate to you as a showrunner or other writer-producer that you are not excused from performing your duties as a showrunner and/or producer on your series as a result of the WGA strike. Your personal services agreement with Studio requires that you perform your showrunner and/or producing duties even if the WGA attempts to fine you for performing such services during the strike. Your duties as a showrunner and/or producer are not excused, suspended or terminated until and unless you are so notified in writing by the Studio. Studio intends to stay in production during the WGA strike and we are legally entitled to do so.”

Related: Writers Guild Strike 2023 Explained: What It Means For Your Favorite TV Shows


Major Productions Affected by the WGA Strike

HBO sent a similar letter to its showrunners on May 2 (via Deadline), saying that while the studio respects the WGA’s right to strike, they “believe certain services, such as participating in the cast process and/or contributing to non-writing production, and post-production work are clear examples of non-WGA required services that should continue to be rendered during this time.” HBO also went the extra mile to include, “If you fail to provide contracted services due to the strike, HBO/HBO Max will not be obliged to continue your salary,” and that the same is true if production is interrupted.

Though the WGA strike is still only in its first week, several major film and television productions have been affected. Most late-night talk shows have gone on hiatus for the strike, including The Tonight Show and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Saturday Night Live is also on pause, canceling the hosting appearances of Succession‘s Kieran Culkin and The White Lotus‘ Jennifer Coolidge. WGA strikers have also attempted to shut down the production of Marvel’s upcoming series Wonder Man in the hopes of losing Disney around $200,000 per day.

This WGA strike is the largest in 15 years, the last being the famous 2007-2008 strike. While writers continue to picket, actors, directors, and other members of the film and television industry have protested alongside them, demanding that studios give writers the proper compensation they are owed. With the last major writers strike having lasted a little over three months, it’s unclear how long this one will continue on for.

Source: THR, Deadline

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