The Big 2023 Hollywood Strikes: 11 Important Facts

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The Great Hollywood Pause of 2023: In 2023, Hollywood experienced its version of a “system reboot.” The Writers Guild of America (WGA) decided to take a 146-day hiatus, making it one of the most memorable strikes in Hollywood’s star-studded history. But why? Let’s dive into the plot twists. The last Hollywood Writers strike was in 2007-2008, and it lasted for 100 days. It cost the industry an estimated $2 billion and resulted in many shows being canceled or shortened.

1. Hollywood Strikes: What’s the WGA?

2023 Hollywood Strikes - WGA building
2023 Hollywood Strikes. Screenshot: ABC 7 Chicago

The Writers Guild of America represents over 11,000 writers who create scripts for your favorite shows and movies. They are unhappy with how studios and streaming services treat them in the era of online entertainment, where they get paid less and work longer.

2. The Core of the Conflict

Streaming pay and artificial intelligence? Sounds like a sci-fi movie, right? But that’s what the strike was all about. On May 1, 2023, the WGA’s contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents major studios and streaming services, expired. Writers wanted their fair share of streaming platforms and a say in how AI shapes content’s future. The WGA declared the 2023 Hollywood Writers Strike effective at 12:01 a.m. PST on May 2. However, like any well-written Hollywood story, after some drama, suspense, and cameo appearances by top industry execs, the curtain fell with a happy ending on Sept. 25, 2023.

3. The Star-Studded Negotiation Table

Imagine a room with Bob Iger, David Zaslav, Ted Sarandos, and Donna Langley. No, it’s not an award show. They were the industry bigwigs who stepped in to break the negotiation deadlock. The WGA even gave the deal two thumbs up, calling it “exceptional.”

4. Double Trouble in Tinseltown

Fran Drescher
Screenshot: SAG-AFTRA – YouTube

While the writers were busy striking, the actors, headed by Fran Drescher, thought, “Why not join the party?” Hence, the “double strike,” or as we like to call it, “Hollywood’s Double Feature of Despair.” The 2023 Hollywood strikes affected the production of numerous television shows, particularly late-night talk shows, comedy programs, and scripted dramas. Some major movies also experienced delays or disruptions due to the strike. While the writers’ strike ended, the actors still await negotiations.

5. The Domino Effect

The strikes didn’t just affect the stars. Everyone felt the tremors, from camera operators to the guy who brings coffee. Even local businesses, like costume shops and caterers, faced the music. The total bill? California’s economy lost a whopping few billion dollars.

6. A Blast from the Past

This wasn’t Hollywood’s first rodeo. The writers’ strike of 2023 was the longest since 1988. And talk about a sequel: it was the first dual union strike since 1960!

7. The Late Night Shuffle

Stephen Colbert
Stephen Colbert. Screenshot: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert / CBS

Late-night shows played musical chairs with their return dates. But come early October, hosts were back, cracking jokes and probably making fun of the strike. And daytime talk shows? They wanted to return even during the strike and were hard-pressed not to. Now, nothing is stopping them.

8. Historic Hollywood Strikes Halts as Stars Align on Settlement

SAG-AFTRA and Tinseltown titans have finally called a wrap on their epic four-month standoff in a plot twist worthy of the silver screen. On Nov. 9, 2023, Hollywood’s once-buzzing studios, silenced by a strike as historic as the talkies’ invention, are abuzz again. Fran Drescher, the Union’s commander-in-chief, dubbed the deal “historic”—and we’re not talking about her comedic timing.

9. When the Script Flips: A Billion-Dollar Deal to Write Home About

This deal didn’t just break the bank; it’s the Gandalf of contracts, boasting the “biggest contract-on-contract gains” in union history, a billion-dollar behemoth that’s more than just numbers. It’s a financial fairytale complete with happier paychecks, AI shields, and a streaming participation bonus.

10. AI Protections: The New Frontier in the Actor’s Arsenal

In the digital domain, where actors compete with pixels and code, the new agreement casts AI as the supporting actor, not the lead. It’s a win for flesh-and-blood stars, ensuring their digital doubles won’t steal the scene—or the paycheck.

11. Streaming Participation Bonus: The Cherry on the Digital Sundae

At a time when a full season drops from 24 to 10 episodes, the streaming participation bonus is like the industry’s way of saying, “Thanks for binge-watching,” with actual cash.

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