A lot can happen in 146 days. When the Writers Guild strike started in May, Drew Barrymore was one of its early folk heroes, when she stepped down as host of the MTV Movie & TV Awards in solidarity. But four months later, Barrymore became one of the strike’s most reviled public figures when she tried to rationalize the decision to bring back her daytime talk show in the midst of a work stoppage. There were many winners and losers to come out of this hot labor summer, and it’s not over yet, as SAG-AFTRA looks to seal its own deal with the AMPTP. But as the WGA prepares to vote on its hard-fought new contract, here are some of the entities that made it to the other side on the rise — or a bit imperiled.
The standup and host of series like “Adam Ruins Everything” and the podcast “Factually!” is known for breaking down things you thought you knew — and educating audiences through comedy. As a member of the WGA negotiating committee, he played a pivotal role in explaining the strike to the public, and how solidarity would pay off in a contract that would address key concerns. “We stuck together, and we won,” he wrote on social media.
AMPTP president Carol Lombardini isn’t on X/Twitter — at least as far as we know. But the anonymous account parodying her became the hit of the strike. Fake Carol spent her days eating bad food at the Sherman Oaks Galleria while finding different ways to conspire against the guilds and defend the studios’ CEOs. Wrote “Carol”: “Yes we have to get back to work, and the AMPTP is willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen as long as it just takes waiting around for writers to change their minds and accept the one and only offer we’ve made in over 4 months even though it is bad.”
Known for co-creating the drama “Party of Five,” among other credits, Keyser is a former WGA West president who as co-chair of the guild’s negotiating committee became the strong, resolute face of the strike. His regular videos kept the rank and file informed and energized even as the writers strike became one of the longest in history. “We are fighting for survival,” Keyser noted in a speech this summer.
At last count, comedian and “The Price Is Right” host had spent more than $500,000 covering the meal tabs for striking writers at both Bob’s Big Boy in Burbank and Swingers diner in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles. Wrote Joe Russo on social media: “There were a lot of heroes in the WGA strike, but one stands above the rest. Thank you, Drew Carey.” Not to be outdone, Seth MacFarlane earned kudos for donating at least $6 million to the Entertainment Community Fund to help workers impacted by the strikes.
“Sorry to Bother You” and “I’m a Virgo” writer/director Boots Riley became a rallying figure not only for the WGA, but for union action everywhere. As he wrote on social media: “Inspiring. It’s happening all over. With 3000 strikes in 3 years, in multiple industries, & many sites that hadn’t been organized b4- this is the most far-reaching, strike wave in the US since the 70s. Its gonna keep growing. Best thing bosses can do is give in quick.”
Drew Barrymore/Bill Maher
It didn’t have to go down this way. But in their ham-fisted attempts to explain why they were restarting their talk shows in the midst of the strike, Drew Barrymore and Bill Maher managed to turn the striking writers’ ire toward them. In the end, both hosts delayed the return of their shows to air — but the damage was already done.
State of California
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration has tallied the cost of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes as having a $5 billion impact on the California economy. “For over 100 days, 11,000 writers went on strike over existential threats to their careers and livelihoods — expressing real concerns over the stress and anxiety workers are feeling,” he said in a statement. “I am grateful that the two sides have come together to reach an agreement that benefits all parties involved, and can put a major piece of California’s economy back to work.”
The ongoing production stoppage led some networks and streamers to reassess low-rated shows on the bubble that had previously squeaked out renewals. Among the series that were initially saved from cancellation and picked up — but then canceled anyway — include Amazon Prime Video’s “A League of Their Own” and “The Peripheral” and Peacock’s “Pitch Perfect: Bumper in Berlin.”
David Zaslav/Bob Iger
Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav was the early baddie of the WGA strike, even earning jeers during his address at the Boston University commencement in May. Shots of him partying with champagne in hand during the Cannes Film Festival that month, in the midst of the strike, didn’t help. But then came Disney CEO Bob Iger, who initially was seen as the figure who might broker a deal between both sides. When Iger, live from Sun Valley, told CNBC that the WGA and SAG-AFTRA were not being “realistic,” strikers were not pleased.
It all started when the MTV Movie & TV Awards was reduced to a pre-taped event in May. Soon, the Daytime Emmys (set for June 16) were postponed and the Tonys had to adjust their June 11 show (but still went on). The 2023 Peabody Awards, set to hail from Los Angeles for the first time, were canceled. The Television Critics Assn.’s TCA Awards were announced with a press release. And then there’s the case of the Primetime Emmy Awards, originally slated for September but shifted all the way to January 2024.
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