Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Thursday, September 14th, 2023
There is movement, or at least talk of possible movement, in the WGA/AMPTP negotiations.
Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Thursday, September 14th, 2023.
TONIGHT'S NEWSLETTER, TAKE TWO
Just as I was finishing up tonight's newsletter, came this update on the WGA/AMPTP negotiations, courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter's Leslie Goldberg:
Now nothing exemplifies the weirdness of this strike more than the fact The Hollywood Reporter apparently received an exclusive on this news. So I am interested in seeing what the WGA says when they release whatever statement is likely to come out ahead of a meeting.
But aside from that, while everyone should see this as a positive step, the two sides still seem to be pretty far away from making a deal.
It has taken a couple of weeks for even a proposal to restart negotiations to be announced and based on what I have heard from studio sources familiar with the current negotiating strategy, there were several reasons and to no one's surprise, some of the reasons conflicted with each other.
* There was some hope that recent efforts to convince showrunners and other industry heavyweights that they needed to step into the negotiations in much the same way they did in 2008 would have some impact. As The Ankler reported yesterday, agents at CAA and WME had been making calls to their striking clients, advising them that WGA negotiators weren't listening to reason and were unwilling to negotiate in "good faith." So having a narrative out there that the negotiations weren't taking place because the WGA refused to counter the AMPTP offer might not be exactly factual, but it served a messaging purpose.
* All that said, I have had several AMPTP people tell me the last WGA proposal wasn't a "serious" one, and that because of that, the WGA needed to return with a more substantive offer. Since I haven't seen the most recent WGA proposal, all I can do is report their take. I have no way of judging the validity of their claim.
* As you have no doubt heard, AMPTP has a new PR firm handling issues related to the strike and according to several sources on the studio side, this pause took place in part to see if some carefully placed press coverage could put pressure on the WGA to be more flexible on some of their proposals. As I wrote yesterday, various industry executives have started delivering statements and public speeches that touch on the same points: we're all partners, we all want to get back to work, this strike is hurting everyone. There aren't any details about a proposal and that is a purposeful decision. Because details invite public discussion and potential blowback. The point of these statements is to make it sound as if the studios are reasonable stewards of Hollywood and really want to make a deal.
* But the biggest reason is that AMPTP members have been wrangling behind the scenes on what issues they should prioritize and which ones can be negotiated away. "It's like trying to herd a room full of cats," one person who had listened in on a recent strategy call told me this morning. "Except each cat think the only thing that matters is what they want. And they don't want the same things as any of the other cats."
Aside from the painfully stretched metaphor, the explanation seems to track with what I've heard from other sources. Netflix is generally open to settling, but the big "red line" proposal the company has refused to address is one of the few that most of the other major parties think is doable. And that seems to be the case with multiple points. No one can agree on what is most important to them, much less how to structure a proposal that the WGA might see as a reasonable counterproposal.
I've also heard there have been some interesting side talks that might lead somewhere if all of this wasn't wrapped around a lot of ego and stubborness. "There are some CEOs who see softening their position as a sign of weakness," one high-level streaming executive explained. "They are genetically incapable of admitting they misjudged the situation. And I think we could settling the strike pretty quickly if they could find someone they could blame."
But that ego is tempered by a lot of quiet desperation on both sides. Most writers have suffered a financial hit it will take years to recover from. And most of the AMPTP members are facing financial challenges of their own, which will only begin to be solved once production is returning to a near normal level.
And not to make the situation feel even more dire, but let's not forget that once the WGA strike is resolved, the SAG-AFTRA strike will still be taking place. And then comes the big question. How long does that negotiation take and will writers be willing or able to work during an ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike?
So that's where we are today, at least that's where we are from my perspective. In theory, both sides are in a press blackout during negotiations. Lots of details get leaked by various participants, but it's often hard to tell whether or not a source really knows what they're talking about or if you're being spun in some direction.
I've heard a lot of conflicting rumors today from people who in theory should have a sense of the current state of negotiations. All I know for sure is that based on what I hear from people on each side, while there is some movement, I haven't heard anything yet that makes me hopeful that two sides are a sit down or two away from an agreement.
ODDS AND SODS
Plenty of other things took place today, but they were pushed out of the newsletter by the strike update info. WBD executives continue to claim that streaming content is "undervalued." Which I might be more inclined to believe if Max wasn't struggling with so many churn issues. Disney is at least exploring the sale of ABC and the ABC O&O TV stations, which is something that would have been hard to imagine even a year or two ago. And Rena Sofer is returning to General Hospital after 26 years....okay, that's a more niche piece of news.
WHAT'S NEW TODAY AND TOMORROW:
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 14TH:
* A La Carte (ALLBLK)
* As Luck Would Have It: Murder For Sale (LMN)
* Barbie: A Touch Of Magic (Netflix)
* Buddy Games Series Premiere (CBS)
* Dragons: The Nine Realms Season Premiere (Hulu/Peacock)
* Ehrengard: The Art Of Seduction (Netflix)
* No Demo Reno Season Premiere (HGTV)
* Once Upon A Crime (Netflix)
* Southern Charm Season Premiere (Bravo)
* Theater Camp (Hulu)
* Thursday Night Football Season Premiere (Prime Video)
* Thursday's Widows Series Premiere (Netflix)
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 15TH, 2023:
* A Million Miles Away (Prime Video)
* Come Fly With Me (Hallmark Movies And Mysteries)
* El Conde (Netflix)
* Elevator Game (Shudder)
* Heels Season Two Finale (Starz)
* Inside The World's Toughest Prisons Season Seven Premiere (Netflix)
* Lang Lang Plays Disney (Disney+)
* Love At First Sight (Netflix)
* Love After Lockup Season Premiere (Netflix)
* Master & Apprentice: A Special Look At Ahsoka (Disney+)
* Miseducation Series Premiere (Netflix)
* Rotting In The Sun (Mubi)
* Surviving Summer (Netflix)
* The Club (Netflix)
* The Last Drive-In With Joe Bob Briggs: The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon (AMC/Shudder)
* The Latin Music Revolution: A Soul Of A Nation Presentation (ABC)
* Wilderness (Prime Video)
* Written In The Stars Series Premiere (Prime Video)
Click Here to see the list of all of the upcoming premiere dates for the next few months.
SEE YOU FRIDAY!
If you have any feedback, send it along to Rick@AllYourScreens.com and follow me on Twitter @aysrick.