Writers Guild, Studios Reach New Deal

Courtesy of WGA West

The pact appears to mirror the Directors Guild agreement in key respects.

The Writers Guild of America and the major studios reached a deal Tuesday night on a new agreement, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.

The deal is said to include increased residuals – which likely mirror the improvements achieved by the Directors Guild and subsequently SAG-AFTRA – and improvements on span, a concept under which writers are paid additional compensation for working more than a set number of weeks on a television script. The Writers Guild and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers did not respond for comment. 

The deal no doubt also includes basic wage increases and increased contributions to the union pension and health plans, probably amounting to about 3 percent per year, as was the case with the DGA deal.

Negotiations between the guild and the AMPTP began May 18 on a renewal of the union’s master TV/theatrical agreement under conditions completely opposite from what was anticipated just a few months earlier. 

At that time, the industry feared a possible WGA strike. That concern was heightened by the guild’s war, which is still ongoing, against the major talent agencies. Added to that was the possibility of a dual strike with SAG-AFTRA. Indeed, a source close to SAG-AFTRA previously told THR, “Were it not for the pandemic, SAG-AFTRA would have gone on strike.”

But there was and is a pandemic, and that changed everything.

Instead of a possible strike, negotiators had to contend with an actual plague. Instead of peak TV and a production bubble, they grappled with an industry shutdown and an uncertain production reboot. Instead of lengthy in-person negotiations with upwards of 100 executives and staff crammed in a room, it was a smaller number crammed on a videoconference. And, unusually, the AMPTP interleaved its WGA negotiations with its continuing talks with SAG-AFTRA, which began April 27 and concluded with a deal, not a strike, on June 10. (SAG-AFTRA’s board approved that deal June 29 and it now goes to that union’s members for ratification.)

But some things don’t change: While the DGA feels that the best deal is obtained by negotiating early, and first, the WGA view is that a ticking clock is a better incentive – and so, as in years past, the writers bargained down to the wire despite beginning talks six weeks ahead of a June 30 expiration.

Lesley Goldberg contributed reporting.