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Saturday Night Live regular Bowen Yang hoped to be preparing for a new episode of the sketch comedy show this week. Instead, he joined fellow members of the Writers Guild of America on the picket lines as the union strikes for the first time in more than 15 years.
“I’m really disappointed. We had a few good shows left, I think. We all came back rested and ready to work on Monday,” Yang told The Hollywood Reporter as he picketed outside Netflix’s offices in Manhattan. “Pete [Davidson] was very excited to host, even though he knew there was a big asterisk on the week, and there was a looming possibility it might not happen. I think we were all ready to give it our all for the next three weeks before the season ended.”
Along with several other late night shows, SNL shut down production on Tuesday after the union called the strike. Yang and several other cast members are also members of the WGA.
Yang said he felt most for “the new cast and the new writers who started out [on SNL this season] — they didn’t get a chance to ring in the end of their first season, which is always a big milestone.” The WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, representing studios and streamers, haven’t set a time to resume negotiations, but with the two sides far apart at their last talks on Monday, a quick resolution seems unlikely.
Calling himself a “proud guild member,” Yang said he was “demoralized” after seeing a WGA document noting that the AMPTP didn’t even counter several union proposals for a new contract. “The fact that most of the points were just outright rejected is really devastating and concerning,” he told THR. “So I’m here to join with the rest of the union to try to put pressure on the studios.”
Yang started as a writer on SNL in 2018 and joined the cast the following season. He’s also a member of SAG-AFTRA, whose own contract is up at the end of June. “I feel very lucky that I’m intersecting in both those things,” he said. “A lot of people in the industry are members of multiple guilds, and I think it’s important that we show some solidarity as we can among the unions — especially since they’re also negotiating with the alliance.”
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