Universal Studio Group recently made the decision to reinstate all of its writing and non-writing producers but chose not to extend the term on any of their deals. This move comes after a lengthy strike by the Writers Guild of America (WGA), which impacted various aspects of the entertainment industry.
Notably, mega producers like Dick Wolf and Seth MacFarlane were not affected by the strike as their deals were never suspended. However, non-writing producers such as Lorne Michaels experienced a temporary suspension of their deals, lasting only a couple of weeks.
Unfortunately, the suspended deals primarily affected writers who saw their deals put on hold for the entire five-month duration of the strike. This resulted in significant losses in earnings for these individuals.
It is important to note that term deals do not automatically extend after a strike-related suspension. Studios have the discretion to choose whether or not to extend these deals. In this case, Universal Studio Group decided against extending any deals, while other studios have made extension decisions on a case-by-case basis.
Before the strike began, Universal TV and UCP had initiated renewal conversations with showrunners, and some deals were completed prior to the strike’s commencement. The studio is expected to reengage with those whose deals are set to expire in 2024 and 2025 closer to their expiration dates.
Warner Bros TV also chose not to extend a significant portion of its suspended deals, especially those ending in 2025 and beyond. On the other hand, Sony did not include an extension/no extension clause in its reinstatement letters and will address this matter in future discussions.
As for streaming platforms, most have opted to extend their overall deals, although limited information is available regarding Amazon Studios’ approach.
It is worth mentioning that studios and streamers have not granted extensions to deals that were not intended to be renewed or those that expired during the strike or are set to expire soon.
Unlike the 2007-2008 WGA work stoppage, no overall or first-look deal terminations have been reported during the recent strike. This signals a different approach by the industry players in handling the aftermath of the labor dispute.
Overall, the reinstatement of writing and non-writing producers by Universal Studio Group is a significant development post-strike. However, the decision not to extend the term on the deals has created uncertainty for affected writers, who now face losses in earnings and must navigate renegotiations in the future. The entertainment industry will continue to monitor the decisions of other studios and streamers in the coming months.
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