CEOs Stay Late in Marathon Bargaining Session With WGA

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Four Hollywood CEOs returned to the bargaining table Thursday for a second day of talks with the Writers Guild of America, as the industry looked for signs of progress toward a deal that would end the 143-day strike.

As of shortly after 6 p.m., the CEOs were still in the room in Sherman Oaks, as a marathon bargaining session continued.

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

Sources said the two sides were making progress in several areas, though significant issues remained. It was not clear whether the CEOs would be able to return for a third day of bargaining on Friday, though the sources stressed that the parties aim to capitalize on momentum and are committed to getting a deal.

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

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers was said to have offered a success-based residual, that would take the form of a bonus for streaming shows that reach certain audience thresholds.

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

The WGA has also demanded a minimum staff size for every TV show, which would increase with the number of episodes in a season. The AMPTP has countered that staffing decisions show be left up to the showrunner, rather than determined by a “one size fits all” formula. The studio alliance was believed to be holding to that general position, though it may have made some movement on its offer.

The two sides also spent a portion of Wednesday’s session discussing artificial intelligence. The AMPTP has previously said that the sides were close to an agreement that would allow writers to use AI without impacting their pay or credit. The key sticking point has been the WGA’s demand that AI systems not be allowed to train on writers’ scripts.

If the studios are able to resolve that issue with the writers, it could be helpful in addressing the same concern with SAG-AFTRA. SAG-AFTRA has even deeper concerns about the use of AI to replicate actors’ likenesses, and has also raised alarms over AI training.

The movement has generated considerable optimism that a deal could be at hand, with some predicting a tentative agreement could even be reached on Thursday. But the WGA has poured cold water on that, with some leaders suggesting on Twitter that the rumors are only meant to raise hopes and make the WGA look unreasonable if it rejects the latest offer.

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

Jennifer Maas and Cynthia Littleton contributed to this story.

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