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As Emmy season enters full swing, with studios, networks and streamers hosting For Your Consideration events that include panels and Q&As, many are wondering the degree to which the writers strike will impact scribes’ ability to participate in campaign-related activities.
Up until Tuesday afternoon, a void had been created by the Writers Guild of America’s lack of detailed guidance on this question. Ahead of the strike, one awards strategist told The Hollywood Reporter, “The guidance that the WGA sent out didn’t specifically call out promoting existing series through marketing & PR, but it did say they discouraged doing anything to support the studios being struck against. So I think some writers are going to be hardline union supporters, and others are going to want to promote their shows.”
However, the WGA did update their FAQ page to include a paragraph on whether writers can promote a project at a film festival or at an FYC event. “No, you should let the Company know you are prohibited from making these promotional appearances about your work until the strike concludes.”
Certain rules of the strike are pretty straightforward: a member, or their representative working on behalf of that member, is not allowed to meet or negotiate with a struck company, and the member is not allowed to provide any writing services or sell or option any literary material to such a company.
There are also picket line rules, which prohibit members from entering any premises of a struck company as well as participating remotely in writing rooms or telecommunications like Zoom meetings with such companies.
Some companies, including Netflix, Amazon and Apple, have their own theaters and event spaces at which they hold FYC events, so campaigning at one of these sites is also considered “entering the premises of a struck company” under the strike rules, even without the updated rule.
People who work solely as TV writers are often not included in Emmy campaign events during the pre-nominations phase of the season. But many writers who pull double-or triple duty by also serving as a showrunner, producer, or director are asked to partake in panels and other activations. It remains unclear if the guild will give them special dispensation to do so.
A spokesperson for the WGA did not respond to multiple requests for comment on these questions. Multiple sources tell THR that studios are moving ahead with FYC events, even if writers will not participate.
Boots Riley, who has been busy promoting his new Prime Video show I’m a Virgo, tweeted over the weekend that he would stop any and all promotion as soon as a WGA strike is called. “Still hope ppl see the show, but I wont put in work for it during the strike… to be clear- pretty much all the showrunners are doing this, not just me.”
Kelvin Yu, the showrunner of American Born Chinese, told THR in mid-April that “if we strike, we’re trying to grind the industry to a halt to flex our muscle but I don’t think we’re trying to shoot our own shows in the foot.” Especially since the shows being promoted this Emmy campaign were written and shot well before negotiations started.
Some companies have indicated to THR that they plan to proceed with campaign events with or without the participation of the writers. Says one awards strategist: “You are cutting off your nose to spite your face. You are not hurting us. You are hurting yourselves.” The person added, “For future award work, sure, but for past work? Who does that hurt? It is self-defeating and a disservice to your creative partners.”
There is no exact precedent for the current strike, given that the 2007-2008 writers strike fell in the fall and winter months, well outside of the Emmy campaign window. Writers last took a strike authorization vote in 2017, during a tough round of negotiations where the critical issue on the table was, again, compensation. In that year, 96.3 percent of voting members supported the strike, but the guild and studios ultimately reached a deal at the last minute that averted the shutdown. Ten years prior, however, writers went out on strike for 100 days after 90 percent of eligible members supported a strike authorization.
This week, after months of negotiating, the WGA announced its first strike in 15 years to ensure better compensation, minimum television writing staff sizes and a minimum number of weeks of employment, among other demands, for their writers, in the streaming era.
The WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers had been negotiating a three-year contract covering around 11,500 film and television writers at the latter’s Sherman Oaks headquarters since March 20. In early April the WGA alleged that “the studios need to respond to the crisis writers face” in negotiations, while in recent statement the AMPTP suggested that the union has not been fully committed to reaching a deal prior to its strike authorization vote.
The TV Academy released a statement to THR on Tuesday to accommodate event changes amid the strike. The TV Academy will offer its partners three options for how to handle their already-scheduled FYC events: (1) proceed with a scheduled FYC event as planned and contracted; (2) proceed with an event with an adjusted panel or without a panel; (3) cancel the event without a penalty fee.
Tyler Coates contributed to this report.
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