CEOs stay late in marathon bargaining session with WGA

Four Hollywood CEOs returned to the negotiating table Thursday for a second day of talks with the Writers Guild of America, as the industry looked for signs of progress toward an agreement ending the 143-day strike.

Even just after 6 p.m., the CEOs were still in the room in Sherman Oaks, where the marathon negotiating session continued.

The CEOs attending the session were, once again, Bob Iger of Disney, David Zaslav of Warner Bros. Discovery, Donna Langley of NBCUniversal, and Ted Sarandos of Netflix.

The sources said that the two sides are making progress in several areas, although important issues still remain. It was not clear whether the CEOs would be able to return for a third day of bargaining on Friday, although sources confirmed that the parties aimed to build on the momentum and were committed to reaching an agreement.

They said the studios made moves in multiple areas that they hoped would be enough to break the stalemate. But it remained unclear whether WGA leaders would see the latest AMPTP proposals and amendments as sufficient to meet the writers’ demands.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers has reportedly offered a success-based residual, which may take the form of a bonus for broadcast shows that reach certain audience thresholds.

The WGA proposed a remaining viewership-based amount that would increase by a set amount for every 2.5 million views, where a “view” would be counted as any time someone watched at least half of the program.

The WGA also required a minimum number of employees per television show, which would increase with the number of episodes per season. AMPTP responded that hiring decisions were left up to the exhibitor, rather than being determined by a “one-size-fits-all” formula. The studio alliance is believed to be sticking to that overall position, though it may have made some movement on its offer.

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The two sides also spent part of Wednesday’s session discussing artificial intelligence. AMPTP previously said the two sides were close to reaching an agreement that would allow writers to use AI without affecting their salaries or credits. The main sticking point was the WGA’s request that AI systems not be allowed to train on writers’ scripts.

If studios can solve this problem with writers, it might be worth tackling the same issue with SAG-AFTRA. SAG-AFTRA has deeper concerns about using AI to imitate actors’ likenesses, and has also raised alarms about AI training.

The movement generated great optimism about the possibility of reaching an agreement, with some anticipating the possibility of reaching an initial agreement on Thursday. But the WGA poured cold water on that, with some leaders on Twitter suggesting that the rumors are only meant to get hopes up and make the WGA look unreasonable if it rejects the latest offer.

The WGA’s work stoppage began on May 2. SAG-AFTRA has been on strike since July 14.

Jennifer Maas and Cynthia Littleton contributed to this story.

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