As feared by the industry that they would, the Writer’s Guild of America is now on strike and on the picket lines. The top issue for them is, as they word it, “Compensation for writers in a changing media landscape.” It was an opportune time to do so as their contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) expired at midnight Tuesday morning (May 02). Further into their statement the WGA stated, “The survival of writing as a profession is at stake in this negotiation. Driven in large part by the shift to streaming, writers are finding their work devalued in every part of the business. While company profits have remained high and spending on content has grown, writers are falling behind. The companies have used the transition to streaming to cut writer pay and separate writing from production, worsening working conditions for series writers at all levels.”
Okay, better compensation and being more inclusive in the whole process. Understood. But that is for all of Hollywood and the respective unions therein to haggle over. That is above our pay grade. Selfishly we want to know how that affects HBO content because it will. How much it affects it depends on how long the strike languishes on. The last strike in 2007-08 lasted 14 weeks and put a hurt on the industry. We just rallied from the pandemic putting on the creative crunch it did and now this.
So, getting down to our nitty-gritty little needs, how does it hurt HBO? Well, we are not 100% sure where each and every show lies in their development but if a show hasn’t fleshed out all their scripts yet they are not going to now. If they are lucky to be tight with their scripts then they can, of course, get in front of the cameras. One such lucky show has been noted. Many reports across the web all call out that HOUSE OF THE DRAGON is safe. But what about shows like EUPHORIA, THE RIGHTEOUS GEMSTONES, and THE WHITE LOTUS? Not to mention the new titles recently announced like WELCOME TO DERRY or THE HEDGE KNIGHT? Yep, they will all be bogged down until the strike ends.
The shows most guaranteed to be tabled are the scripted joke engines REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER and LAST WEEK TONIGHT WITH JOHN OLIVER. Like their late-night counterparts across the dial, they will be halted. It will indeed delay some new content, but WBD won’t get flustered because it has plenty of ‘unscripted’ fare for us come May 23. If all our big titles are pushed back, we’ll have to watch DR. PIMPLE POPPER….whoa hold up…enjoying repeats of THE WIRE, ROME, CARNIVALE, and DEADWOOD will happen before I resort to that.
Let’s just hope the writers’ strike doesn’t last too long for them or us.