Hollywood Writers and Actors Strike Could Lead To 'Absolute Collapse of the Industry,' Says Top Executive
IAC and Expedia Chairman Barry Diller stated in a CBS interview that failing to calm the strikes of the writers and screen guilds in Hollywood will lead to "devastating effects" if not resolved soon. There could be a domino effect if the strikes are not taken seriously and resolved as soon as possible.
An immediate solution is a must for the industry
The former Paramount Pictures CEO also said that if the strikes continue for too long, people will have fewer programs to watch and many subscriptions will be canceled. He also talked about other issues like AI and pay disparities that are leading to these problems and suggested solutions to overcome them. According to him, AI is "overhyped to death" in terms of the impact it will have on the creatives. However, he seems concerned about its impact on the publishing industry, indicating potential lawsuits which he refused to go into details about.
Diller suggested that the top-paid actors could take a 25% pay cut as a good-faith measure to try and narrow down the disparity between the most paid and least paid. He discussed how leading tech companies like Google and Microsoft are trying to "find a solution for publishers." "The problem is they also say that the fair use doctrine of the copyright law allows them to suck up all this stuff. We on the publishing side do not agree with that," he said.
He talked about how these companies should come up with an intelligent business model before ingesting the publisher's copyrighted work. "It took 15 years to get back on paywalls that protected publishers," Diller said. “I think litigation will hopefully lead to sensible legislation here," he added. He stressed how important it is to protect the copyright and how without it, all is lost.
Why did the writers go on a strike?
Back in May 2023, thousands of writers unanimously agreed that they were not being paid fairly in the era of streaming. This strike brought television production to an abrupt pause. This happened after the trade association representing Hollywood’s marquee studios failed to set rules that satisfied all, after failed negotiation with the Writers Guild of America. The guild which announced the strike on May 2 called this moment an "existential crisis" for all the writers.
As a result, late-night shows like The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert stopped filming fresh episodes and started airing reruns instead. The strike didn't come as a shock to Hollywood as back-and-forth negotiations were on for days before they decided to go on a strike. The median writer-producer pay has plummeted by 23 percent over the last decade, as per the WGA report. "Our wages have been falling in the last few years as the streamers’ profits have been skyrocketing," staff writer and WGA member, Amanda Mercedes told TODAY.
Actors join the strike
Hollywood actors have joined the strike in solidarity with their colleagues. The Screen Actors Guild-America Federation of Television and Radio Artists which is 160,000 members strong and includes some of the best performers in the world said that their members will be joining with Hollywood's 11,500 writers who have been protesting on the picket line in LA since May.
"You really can’t make a living anymore," said actor Felicia Day, who came to the SAG-AFTRA HQ to join the official announcement of the strike. However, the CEO of Disney said that the writers' and actors' demands are simply not feasible. "There’s a level of expectation that they have, that is just not realistic," he said in an interview with CNBC.
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