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TV Writers React to WGA Deal: ‘Both Parties Live to Fight Another Day’

Variety logo Variety 5/3/2017 Daniel Holloway
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The WGA and producers struck a deal early Tuesday morning for a three-year contract — avoiding what had looked like an increasingly possible strike by TV and film writers. The new deal included residual increases, a significant uptick in the contributions to the guild’s health-insurance plan, and new rules that address compensation issues around television series with short seasons.

Variety checked in with television writers to gauge their reaction to the deal, and to the averted strike.

Rick Cleveland (“The Man in the High Castle”)

“It’s great that we were able to avoid a strike, especially in an era where it isn’t the norm for CEOs to give a rip about the people working underneath them. An era where rampant greed seems to be treated as virtuous. We even have one of those guys in charge of the entire country. So this settlement is welcomed and a relief. Hopefully 20 years from now writers will still be able to make a decent living writing for film and television.”

Adi Hasak (“Shades of Blue”)

“Both parties live to fight another day. But I think the business is moving so quickly and so rapidly. It’s a dated dialogue that’s going on. No one is really thinking about where the business will be three years from now. It’s almost as if we’re litigating the past and when we need to be litigating the future.”

David Mandel (“Veep”)

“I was in the edit room last night, trying to get the seventh episode finished before the deadline, because it was very unclear what was going to happen post-deadline. I personally believe that the editing I do is akin to writing, so I was preparing to walk away, although we didn’t get that far. The silence was sort of deafening. Then finally they announced that there was a deal.

“I’ve never seen such a big story go uncovered [by the mainstream media]. It’s a very weird thing. It seems like a very giant story being consciously ignored by a lot of the mainstream media right now, which I think perhaps a reflection that so many of these giant entertainment corporations also own newspapers, magazines and things.”

Damon Lindelof (“The Leftovers,” member of the WGA negotiating committee)

“For me, personally, as a member of the negotiating committee, I couldn’t hold any of the [contract points] at a higher level than any of the others, because you want to serve the membership as a whole. I think the thing that affects us all was the health plan. So that was certainly a critical gain. That said, in terms of the world I’ve been in for the last three years, working on a cable drama that produced 10 episodes in its first two seasons and eight in its last, the work expands to fill the time. So I have writers in my employ who basically worked making 10 episodes of “The Leftovers,” and it would take us 10 months to write those episodes. Whereas if you were working on ‘Scandal’ or ‘This Is us’ over a 10-month period you’re writing 24 episodes. … I think that the deal point that was going to be most impactful five, 10 years down the line is the one related to short seasons, clearly defining that span aspect of that deal point.”

Rockne S. O’Bannon (“Farscape”)

“Sounds like WGA got a good deal. I’m just glad that I didn’t have to cancel a bunch of meetings this week and could keep working.”

Mike Royce (“One Day at a Time”)

“The last strike I was not on a show. I was in between. So I did not have the emotional preparation for this time around. It’s definitely harder. So I was very happy that everything got worked out.”

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