This is the 114th day of the WGA strike and the 41st day of the SAG-AFTRA strike.
Writers who took part in a sit-in in New York City on Wednesday said they were disappointed by the potential breakdown in contract talks with film and television producers but determined to continue the strike.
“The producers are being very dramatic, and I think what will happen, unfortunately, is that the conversations will fall apart,” said Bill Shift, who has received multiple Emmy Award nominations for his writing in his 24 years doing David Letterman night shows. and worked as a WGA store host there.
Shift, who is also affiliated with SAG-AFTRA, was walking Wednesday morning outside the offices of Netflix and Warner Bros. Discovery in Manhattan at a SAG-AFTRA Young Artists sit-in that was attended by about 100 people. Many woke up to the news that negotiations on the West Coast had seemingly collapsed overnight, as AMPTP leaked its Aug. 11 bid for the book and the union derided the move as a ploy to “confuse us.”
said Peter R. Feuchtwanger, a Nicole Academy Junior Screenwriter Fellow and member of the International Screenwriters Development List who hopes to join the guild: “There was a sense of hope yesterday that maybe this was coming to an end.” Today, it seems, the end is not yet in sight. But the resolve among writers has not changed at all.
Wednesday’s sit-down was light on the announced young artists. A handful of people including Swayam “Swai” Bhatia (Succession, Mighty Ducks: Game Changers), Samantha A. smith (Saturdays, Best Man: The Final Chapters) and Julian Lerner (The wonder years) to join the procession of demonstrators carrying banners.
The trio of young SAG-AFTRA members told Deadline they’re staying busy and creative during the summer break strike. Smith called it “disappointing” that it had gone on for so long. “You would have expected or at least hoped that they would come to an agreement on this, and that is exactly why we are here,” she said.
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“We have to keep fighting and wait for it to be over,” Lerner said.
“And we will not give up,” Bhatia said. “If this continues any longer, we will continue to fight.”
Shift, a veteran of the previous WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, guessed that the producers would now try to strike a deal with the actors first. He said, “I think it’s easier to make this deal, and it’s also better for PR because it’s a bad idea for AMPTP to have identifiable people on the picket line.”
He added, “And let me say this about my brothers at SAG-AFTRA: The energy they instilled in the picket line—they understood it. They got it. And that really helped us. I was outside Silvercup Studios every day for a month, and Ryan Murphy didn’t care, and people were happily passing by [the picket line]It really felt like a loser’s locker room. It was the right place to be, but for me it didn’t show any kind of power or influence.”
When SAG-AFTRA hit, he said, “I was a little skeptical at first because they haven’t been out in a long time.”
But he came.
“You go through a period where you go on strike, where the early days are like a high school reunion. You see people you haven’t seen in a long time,” Shift said. “Then I think once they’re here it becomes very real and it becomes a lot more about When will my show come back? It became very personal and very historical, I think the energy shifted and there was an urgency for that. …and that’s the thing, that’s what they brought him in. I couldn’t be happier.”
Feuchtwanger saw AMPTP’s publication of their latest offer as another attempt to “drive a wedge through this strike”. He said it wouldn’t work. “Every time they try to do something to divide us, it backfires,” Feuchtwanger said. “It just became fuel for the sit-in rows’ anger and I don’t think they understand that.”
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