A group of top showrunners met today to discuss the WGA strike – a day after it emerged the studios told writer/producers were not excused from producing duties during the labor action.
The meeting was held at the WGA Theater in Beverly Hills with the likes of Damon Lindelof, Shawn Ryan and David Steinberg in attendance.
It comes after the majority of studios, including Warner Bros. Discovery, Disney and Paramount sent out letters to showrunners, telling them to continue to produce.
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“Those studio emails have had the opposite intended effect now,” one showrunner who attended today’s gathering told Deadline. “Now we are more united, more convinced than ever that there is no non-writing aspect of what we do.”
Showrunners have warned that everything they do is writing and many have said that they would not be producing during the strike, which started on Tuesday.
Glen Mazzara, who was showrunner of The Walking Dead, told Deadline yesterday that he stopped performing producing duties on his latest series, AMC’s Beacon 23, which is currently in post-production, in solidarity. “I’m no longer getting my weekly I probably could have said, ‘I’m still going to produce’. No, I support the guild. I’m not producing. I’m not in contact with the folks working on my show,” he said.
He also urged other showrunners not to either. “I would ask all show runners to stop working on their shows completely. We want the strike to be as painful for the companies as possible so that it can be as short as possible so we can get back to work.”
WGA negotiating committee co-chair Chris Keyser spoke at the meeting, which also featured top negotiator Ellen Stutzman, negotiating committee co-chair David Goodman and union secretary-treasurer Betsy Thomas and president Meredith Stiehm
The emails started earlier this week.
“If you are a WGA member, HBO/HBO Max respects your membership in the WGA, and we will not do anything to place you in jeopardy of WGA rules,” a May 2 letter from the Warner Bros Discovery-owned division said. “However, we 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,” it continued.
Disney sent out a similar note. “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,” said a May 3 email. “Studio intends to stay in production during the WGA strike and we are legally entitled to do so.”
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