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Hollywood writers set to strike after talks collapse

STORY: Thousands of Hollywood film and TV writers are set to go on strike starting Tuesday after a midnight deadline passed without an agreement over higher pay from studios.

It ends 15 years without a labor dispute in an industry grappling with changes sparked by the boom in TV streaming around the globe.

The strike will likely throw studio productions into turmoil.

Late-night shows are expected to immediately stop, though Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon spoke in favor of his writers on the Met Gala red carpet on Monday.

"I support my writers, but we have a lot of staff and crew that will be affected by this, you know, but, you know, they got to get a fair deal... I need my writers. I need them real bad. Yeah, I got no show without my writers."

The last strike of the Writers Guild of America lasted 100 days in 2007 and 2008 and cost the economy of California $2.1 billion as productions shut down and out-of-work writers, actors and producers cut back spending.

Studios don’t want another disruption after the COVID-19 pandemic halted production around the globe for months, but budgets are tight, and studios have laid off thousands of employees while cutting spending.

Late on Monday, the group that represents studios like Disney, Netflix said it had offered what it called “generous increases in compensation” in negotiation with the guild.

However, it said the primary sticking points were proposals that, quote, “would require a company to staff a show with a certain number of writers for a specified period of time... whether needed or not.”

The writers' guild said in a statement that companies' behavior had quote, “created a gig economy inside a union workforce.”

According to guild statistics, half of TV series writers now work at minimum salary levels compared to a third, nearly a decade ago.

The WGA also wants safeguards to prevent studios from using AI to generate new scripts from writers’ previous work, and to ensure they are not asked to rewrite draft scripts created by AI.

Further ahead, the strike could lead to a delay of the fall TV season; writing for fall shows normally starts in May or June.