Negotiations aimed at settling the four-and-a-half-month-old strike by screenwriters against Hollywood studios resumed Wednesday and will continue Thursday, the two sides said in a rare joint statement that itself could be a sign of progress.
Wednesday evening’s one-line statement from the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) said simply, “The WGA and AMPTP met for bargaining today and will meet again tomorrow.”
“If they’re putting out a joint statement, I’m taking that as a positive sign,” a studio source told The Hollywood Reporter. “Given what’s transpired, this feels different from before.”
The walkout has stopped production of movies and television shows.
Issues dividing the two sides include pay, the size of writing staffs and the use of artificial intelligence for scripts.
Actors represented by SAG-AFTRA started their own strike in July over separate issues but no new negotiations are known to be on tap in that walkout.
It’s the first time in 63 years that Hollywood has been hit with two such strikes at the same time.
CNBC, citing people close to the writers talks in Sherman Oaks, Calif., said an agreement is near and the parties hope to reach an agreement Thursday.
But, the CNBC sources cautioned, the strike could last through the end of the year if a deal isn’t agreed on.
A picketer in Los Angeles told CBS News Los Angeles Wednesday, “It’s still it’s still tough sledding. And I wouldn’t … be expecting … champagne corks or anything tomorrow or Friday, necessarily.”
Numerous outlets reported that Wednesday’s session included Disney CEO Bob Iger, Netflix Co-CEO Ted Sarandos, Comcast’s NBCUniversal Studio Group Chairman Donna Langley and Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav. All four are expected to attend Thursday’s talks. Variety described their attendance as “a break from previous sessions.”
A Reuters news service source said people in the room Wednesday called the session “encouraging.”
Paramount Pictures, one of the studios involved in the negotiations, and CBS News are both part of Paramount Global. Also, some CBS News staff are SAG-AFTRA or Writers Guild members, but their contracts are not affected by the strikes.