Producers of television talk shows are making plans to return to the air for the first time in five months after Hollywood writers reached a tentative deal to end a work stoppage that had shut down production.
The Writers Guild of America (WGA), which represents roughly 11,500 film and television writers, reached a preliminary three-year deal with major studios on Sunday (local time).
The agreement still must be approved by the union’s leadership and members.
While actors remain on strike, late-night and daytime talk shows could resume production once their writers receive the union’s green light to return to work in the coming days or weeks.
The Drew Barrymore Show is aiming to return to the air in October, a source with knowledge of the plans said.
Barrymore had sparked a backlash by announcing she was going to bring the show back in mid-September, a decision she reversed.
Representatives for late-night shows such as Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon had no comment on when they would air fresh episodes.
Scripted series will not be able to resume filming until the SAG-AFTRA actors’ union reaches an agreement with studios.
The actors walked off the job in July, demanding higher wages and limits to the use of artificial intelligence on screen.
Film and television producer Todd Garner said he expects that once actors reach a deal, scores of productions will race to restart.
“Remember during the pandemic, when Long Beach had all of those ships waiting?” said Garner, referring to the logjam of cargo ships stranded in the southern California port.
“That’s our business right now.
“I’m guessing there are 250 ships in the harbour right now.”
Major television shows and movies are contractually in first position with actors, Garner said.
Work on uncompleted projects such as his own movie, Mortal Kombat 2, will need to be finished before other projects can get under way.
“Until we get all these big ships out of the harbour, nothing new is going to be started, unless it’s with actors who previously weren’t committed to something else,” Garner said.
Shares of big media companies gave up early gains on Monday.
Warner Bros Discovery stock was down 3.2 per cent and Walt Disney dropped 0.5 per cent in afternoon trading.
Paramount Global shares were flat.
Investors of the media companies have been concerned about the financial fallout from the strikes that had initially boosted cash flows due to lower spending but has started eating into earnings.
The deal with writers “will also mean the studios and streaming services will now focus fully on actors’ demands”, said Susannah Streeter, head of money and markets at Hargreaves Lansdown.
“Already it’s likely that the big studios will face a significant hit in 12-18 months’ time, with so little in the pipeline and bosses are now desperate for new content to attract eyes to big and small screens.”
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