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ATX TV Festival on Wednesday said it has added a conversation focused on the writers strike to its schedule and made other programming adjustments as result of the strike.
The “WGA on Strike!” discussion will be moderated by Beau Willimon (House of Cards, Andor), a member of the WGA East, and will feature panelists Zoanne Clack (Grey’s Anatomy, Station 19), Damon Lindelof (Mrs. Davis, Lost) and Julie Plec (Vampire Academy, The Vampire Diaries), all of whom are members of the WGA West, and Greg Iwinski (Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, The Late Show With Stephen Colbert), a member of the WGA East Negotiating Committee.
The official description of the panel is as follows: “With fair pay, streaming residuals, artificial intelligence, the size of writers rooms, and on-set experience all on the table, the writers of the WGA have gone pencils down for the first time in 15 years. During this panel writers discuss first-hand the issues at stake, the changes they’re fighting for; and why the strike is necessary to safeguard the future of not just writers, but all entertainment unions and creatives.”
The co-founders of the Austin-based TV festival have been talking with the WGA to make sure they are following strike compliance rules; as a result, they have made changes to the programming and schedule including both additions and cancellations.
Organizers said that the studios and networks have shifted programming representation to focus on actors, directors, cinematography, casting, costumes, music, non-writing producers and more.
In addition, ATX TV has shifted all writing conversations to focus on the importance and craft of writing as well as broad topical panels such as “Why Do You Write?” and the festival’s programming track with Hollywood, Health and Society, which focuses on social issues in storytelling such as climate change, AI, criminal justice, and aging and caregiving.
“ATX TV Festival has always been a place of celebration and community,” ATX TV co-presidents and founders Caitlin McFarland and Emily Gipson said. “It is where important conversations are had about the history and future of television in a safe and inclusive environment. We will maintain these tenants as we believe education and conversation between both Industry and consumers are needed now more than ever.”
Other programming additions include the panels “Beyond the Page,” “Queer Stories We Want to See” and “…The End.”
Meanwhile, four panels have been canceled as the WGA members who were scheduled to be involved expressed support for their series and teams but said they are choosing to stand with the WGA and will not be attending. Those panels were to spotlight Late Night With Seth Meyers, Andor (a conversation with Tony Gilroy), Tiny Beautiful Things (with Liz Tigelaar and Cheryl Strayed) and a Dawson’s Creek 25th anniversary screening and conversation.
“There wouldn’t be television without writers,” McFarland and Gipson said. “They have always been the rock stars of our festival, and though this year will look a little different, it will continue to be a place to showcase their talents and importance. The stories and characters we care so deeply about would not exist without them, and neither would this festival.”
ATX TV Festival said its pitch competition will continue as planned given that the focus of the competition is education, mentorship and preparing a new group of writers for the next steps in their careers. Judges will include writers, showrunners and producers.
This will mark the first edition of the event since the ATX festival was acquired in November by Penske Media Corporation. (The Hollywood Reporter is owned by PME Holdings, LLC, a joint venture between PMC and Eldridge.)
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