NEW YORK — With Hollywood writers on strike, actors will now have the chance to negotiate their own deals with studios and streaming services.
The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Radio and Television Artists announced Wednesday night that strike talks with studios will continue on Monday. The guild said large numbers of studio executives would attend, as did last week’s marathon sessions that helped end the nearly five-month-old writers’ strike.
Monday is the day late night show hosts return to the air.
Bill Maher led the charge again, announcing early Wednesday (a few hours after the writers were free to work again) that his HBO show “Real Time with Bill Maher” would premiere Friday. By mid-morning, the hosts of NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and CBS’ “Late Show with Stephen Colbert” had announced they would follow suit. . Be back by Monday. “Last Week Tonight,” with John Oliver, was scheduled to return to the air Sunday.
Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” which was using guest hosts when the strike occurred, announced Wednesday that it will return on Oct. 16 “with an all-star guest host lineup for the remainder of 2023.” Plans for “Saturday Night Live” were not immediately clear.
The strikes had a “catastrophic” impact on late-night television viewing, according to research firm Samba TV. Ashwin Navin, co-founder of Samba TV, said broadcast networks are experiencing declines of 40% to 50% in late-night viewership due to Colbert, Fallon and Kimmel’s inability to deliver fresh, timely material. “Time will tell how far late nights will return to their previous state,” he said.
Fallon, Meyers, Kimmel, Colbert and Oliver spent the latter part of the strike teaming up for a popular podcast called “Strike Force Five,” named after their personal text chains, with all proceeds going to their unemployed writers. On Wednesday, they announced on Instagram that their “mission is complete.”
Scripted series will take longer to return due to the actors’ strike, which has given the first signs of a solution with renewed speaking plans. There has been no previous formal contact between SAG-AFTRA and the alliance of studios negotiating the contracts since the strike began July 14.
The resumption of talks last month during the writers’ strike went badly, and it took another month for the two sides to try again. But when negotiations resumed last week, an agreement was only five days away.
Writers union board members approved the contract agreement with the studios Tuesday night, bringing the industry at least partially back from a historic production halt that lasted nearly five months.
Maher had delayed returning to his talk show during the ongoing strike by writers and actors; This decision follows similar pauses on “The Drew Barrymore Show,” “The Talk” and “The Jennifer Hudson Show.”
The three-year deal with studios, producers and streaming services includes significant gains in the main areas the writers fought for — compensation, tenure, staff size and control of artificial intelligence — that match or nearly equal what they initially sought from the strike.
The union was seeking minimal increases in wages and future residual earnings from demonstrations, and would receive an increase of between 3.5 percent and 5 percent in these areas; that’s more than the studios originally offered.
The Guild also negotiated new residual payments based on the popularity of streaming shows, where writers would receive bonuses for being a part of the most popular shows on Netflix, Max and other services, but the studios initially rejected the offer. Many writers on the picket line had complained that they were not being paid properly for helping create heavily monitored properties.
On the subject of artificial intelligence, writers have gained regulation and control of the emerging technology they seek. Under the agreement, raw stories generated by AI will not be considered “literary material,” a term included in contracts for screenwriter-produced screenplays and other forms of stories. This means they won’t be competing with computers for screen credits. AI-generated stories also won’t be considered “source” material, which is contract language for novels, video games or other works that writers can adapt into screenplays.
Under the agreement, writers will have the right to use artificial intelligence in their processes if the company they work for accepts and other conditions are met. But companies can’t require a writer to use AI.
Media Writer David Bauder contributed to this report. Dalton reported from Los Angeles.