As the writers strike wraps its 20th week and inches toward an October date that would make it the longest in the guild’s history, a Friday meeting between the union’s top leadership and a dozen of the industry’s top showrunners has been canceled.
Multiple sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that Friday’s meeting — which was to have included Kenya Barris (Black-ish), Noah Hawley (Fargo), Sam Esmail (Mr. Robot) and Dan Fogelman (This Is Us) and was set to be held at the Writers Guild of America’s L.A. headquarters — was scrapped after news broke Thursday night that the union and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers were returning to the negotiating table. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish holiday that marks the beginning of a new year, was also a factor in the decision to cancel the meeting. A Zoom meeting was also proposed and shot down and a meeting next week with the WGA’s co-chair of the negotiating committee, Chris Keyser, was also considered and ultimately scrapped after both the AMPTP and WGA confirmed that they were scheduling time to return to the table.
Sources say the goal of the meeting was to gather information directly from the guild’s leadership on the status of negotiations and vice versa. “They were pushing for them to get in the room and make a deal,” says one source familiar with the group’s intentions. The top showrunners, the source says, are in direct contact with people in the industry who are suffering and wanted leadership to understand the urgency to return to the table.
“The good news is that they’re meeting and that’s all anybody wants — and hopefully that’s enough,” says another source with knowledge of the group’s intentions.
The WGA and the AMPTP, which represents Hollywood’s studios and streamers, each released statements late Thursday that indicated they are working on scheduling a return to negotiations sometime next week. Before that, negotiations had been at a standstill. The WGA told members Sept. 9 that the AMPTP had offered only one proposal to the guild, on Aug. 11, and its member companies had not moved from that proposal despite the fact that the union “presented our own counterproposal to the AMPTP on August 15th.” The AMPTP responded shortly afterward and said in a statement of its own that the WGA “holds the power to move this negotiation forward by responding to the AMPTP’s most recent offers on key issues.”
“On Wednesday, Sept. 13, the WGA reached out to the AMPTP and asked for a meeting to move negotiations forward,” the AMPTP said in a statement Thursday. “We have agreed and are working to schedule a meeting next week. Every member company of the AMPTP is committed and eager to reach a fair deal, and to working together with the WGA to end the strike.” The WGA responded shortly afterward with a statement that matched a message to members: “The WGA and AMPTP are in the process of scheduling a time to get back in the room.”
The news that the two sides are resuming negotiations came after members within the AMPTP, multiple sources say, were divided on whether to resume negotiations with the WGA or move on to SAG-AFTRA.
The WGA’s longest strike was in 1988 and lasted 154 days. Friday, Sept. 15, is the 137th day of the WGA strike. SAG-AFTRA, which represents performers, has also been on strike since July 14.
The WGA did not respond to THR’s request for comment on the showrunner meeting.