The Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers met for the first time since the union went on strike 95 days ago.
Gene Maddaus, a senior media reporter for Varietysaid the meeting between the two sides lasted an hour.
“The sides still disagree on some of the most important fundamental issues,” Maddaus said.
The entertainment magazine reported late Friday that the meeting between WGA chief negotiator Ellen Stutzman and AMPTP president Carol Lombardini has ended without the promise of new scheduled meetings. According to Variety, the WGA refused to budge on its demand for a minimum number of writers for a TV series and minimum employment.
“All we’ve heard is they don’t want to change that, the strike hasn’t changed that, and the writers continue to see that as an absolutely fundamental point to get out of,” Maddaus said.
In an email to members, WGA said the AMPTP was pushing for a press freeze.
“However, before the negotiating committee even had a chance to meet, our communications department began hearing from the tradesmen seeking comment on leaked studio rumors about the content of the confidential meeting,” the union wrote. “This is after the AMPTP spent much of the meeting stressing the need for a press freeze.”
According to the email, the AMPTP and their chief negotiator insisted that “the DGA deal would be the deal for all pattern issues”.
She stated that they were willing to up their offerings with a few writer-specific TV minimums — and were willing to talk about AI — but that they weren’t willing to commit to preserving the writers’ room or success-based residuals ,” the union wrote.
The WGA said the two sides discussed other issues surrounding the contract and issues raised as a result of the strike.
“…we will need to address issues arising from the strike, including an extension of health care and additional funding, reinstatement of striking writers, and arbitration of disputes arising during the strike,” they wrote. “We will also strive for the right of individual WGA members to honor other unions’ picket lines as they have honored ours during this strike.”
The two sides seemed to agree on one aspect of the negotiations, echoing yesterday’s AMPTP statement: “Our only playbook is getting people back to work.”
“We agree, with the caveat that the circumstances that have made writers’ work increasingly unsustainable must first be addressed,” the WGA wrote.
Outside the meeting
As negotiations progressed, thousands of writers from both the WGA and Screen Actors Guild gathered outside Universal Studios, causing a backlash in traffic on Lankershim Boulevard. Others staged a boxing match on a picket line outside of Television City in the Fairfax District. They said they hoped people would still pay attention.
“Listen to people when they say they’re being taken advantage of,” says production assistant Yorel Chavis.
Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass issued her strongest statement yet, asking both parties to sit down and offering to help.
“It is critical that this is resolved immediately so that Los Angeles gets back on track and I stand ready to personally engage with all stakeholders in any way possible to get this done,” she said.