From Pens to Pickets: Screen writers go on strike again


Writer’s Strike Logo

Madelyn Woodard, News Guest Writer

With box office movies making billions of dollars, you would expect the writers of these movies to be rolling in cash, but most of the time this is not the reality. Like the rest of the film industry, writing is difficult to break into, and for every successful writer, there are thousands of people who are struggling to make a name for themselves.
In late 2007, writers went on strike to ensure fair wages and brought the production of movies and TV shows to a screeching halt. Now, 15 years later, writers are once again striking for better wages. The Writers Guild of America (WGA) began another strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) on Tuesday, May 1 of this year.
Since the strike began, thousands of picketers have been seen in front of various studios and, in some cases, even blocking production. Part of the reason writers’ wages have taken a hit is because of streaming services like Netflix, Peacock and Disney+. In the past, writers received checks when their creations were aired again and again, but now they only receive one flat check when a streaming service buys the show or movie. Every time the technology that we use to consume media changes, writers strike to ensure that they will be fairly compensated. Today’s writers are demanding to be paid wages similar to what they received in the earlier years of television.
So far, the list of projects that the strike will affect is seemingly endless, but it may delay the release and continued production of “Stranger Things,” “Abbot Elementary” and other popular shows as well as most of the late night talk shows. The delay of “Stranger Things” season five production was announced via the official Twitter account of the show when the Duffer brothers (directors and creators of the show) stated that the continued production was “not possible during this strike.” New seasons of these shows are highly anticipated which could lead to production companies facing pressure from audiences and even economic losses as fans lose patience.
In the 2008 strike, late night show hosts were left without a leg to stand on and had to entertain audiences by performing unusual acts. One clip from this era of Conan O’Brien’s talk show has gone viral. The video shows Conan and an assistant timing how long he can spin his wedding ring for, while other clips show hosts floundering as they attempt to stretch bits to fill time. This time, talk shows are expected to begin airing reruns rather than try to make new episodes without writers.
Many celebrities have been openly supportive of the strike, including Quinta Brunson (a writer and actress, Janine on “Abbot Elementary”), who stated at the Met Gala that she, as a member of WGA, hopes that the writers “get what they need.” Jimmy Fallon, host of “The Tonight Show” said that although he hopes that it doesn’t come to it, he would support his writers in the event of a strike.
Member companies of AMPTP are ready to endure a 100 day strike, considering that the last strike started in early November of 2007 lasted until February 2008. The WGA is determined to strike until something changes.