LOS ANGELES — Leaders of the screenwriters union announced their nearly five-month strike Tuesday after board members approved a contract agreement with the studios, bringing Hollywood at least partially back from a historic pause in production.
The boards of directors of the eastern and western chapters of the Writers Guild of America and their joint negotiating committee voted to accept the agreement and then declared that the strike would end and writers could work freely starting at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday. .
Late-night talk shows that are the first to go dark when writers go out on May 2 will likely be the first shows to go on.
Writers still have to vote to ratify the contract themselves, but the Writers Guild told members in an email that lifting the strike would allow them to work through this process.
Following Tuesday’s board votes, the contracts were announced to writers who have yet to be given any details about the deal, with leaders calling it “exceptional.”
Members will vote between October 2-9.
Hollywood actors continue to strike and no talks are yet on the horizon, but a new spirit of optimism revived those striking Tuesday for the first time since writers reached a tentative agreement on Sunday night.
“For a moment, I thought this was actually going to last until next year,” said actor Marissa Cuevas, who starred in “Kung Fu” and “The Big Bang Theory.” “Knowing that at least one of us got a good deal gives us great hope that we will get a good deal, too.”
Writers’ picketing had been suspended, but they were encouraged to march in solidarity with actors, and many lined up Tuesday, including “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner, who was striking along with friend and “ER” actor Noah Wyle. throughout the strikes.
“If SAG had not gone away, we would never have had the leverage we have,” Weiner said. “They were brave enough to do this.”
Striking actors also voted to give their leadership the authority to potentially expand walkouts to include the lucrative video game market; This was a move that could put new pressure on Hollywood studios to sign artists who provide sound and stunts for games.
The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Radio and Television Artists announced the move late Monday, saying 98% of its members had voted to strike against video game companies if ongoing negotiations are not successful. The announcement comes ahead of other talks scheduled for Tuesday.
Acting in video games can include a variety of roles, from voice performances to motion capture work and stunts. Video game players went on strike in 2016 due to a work stoppage that lasted nearly a year.
Some of the same issues are at play in video game negotiations as in the broader actors’ strike that has shut down Hollywood for months, including over wages, safety precautions and protections for the use of artificial intelligence. Companies involved include gaming giants Activision, Electronic Arts, Epic Games, Take 2 Productions, as well as the video game divisions of Disney and Warner Bros.
“It’s time for video game companies to stop playing games and get serious about agreeing to this contract,” SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher said in a statement.
Audrey Cooling, a spokeswoman for the video game makers, said they “continue to negotiate in good faith” and have reached tentative agreements on more than half of the offers on the table.
So far this year, U.S. consumers have spent $34.9 billion on video games, consoles and accessories, according to market research group Circana.
The threat of a video game strike comes as Hollywood writers are on the verge of returning to work after months on the picket line.
The alliance of studios, streaming services and producers has so far chosen to negotiate only with writers and has not yet made any proposals to restart talks with SAG-AFTRA. This will probably change soon.
SAG-AFTRA leaders said they would closely review the writers’ agreement, which includes many of the same issues, but that it would not affect their requests.
Associated Press video reporters Leslie Ambriz and Krysta Fauria in Los Angeles contributed to this report.