Writers strike could drag on until the end of summer, experts say
Late-night talk shows were the first casualties of the Hollywood writers strike, with production on the nightly programs shutting down almost immediately as Writers Guild of America members demand better wages and greater job security.
More than a week into the protest, scripted TV shows are also being forced to air reruns, since no new material is being created.
Viewers will likely start to notice a lack of new content on streaming platforms and television networks soon, as well.
“Pretty much every show is being affected in one way or another,” said Reed Alexander, a reporter on the business of Hollywood for Insider. “It depends on the lifecycle the production is in.”
For example, production on popular shows including “Billions,” “Severance” and “Stranger Things” has been halted or delayed.
“The things we see most immediately are exactly what you pointed to — the late-night shows, because we tend to see those shows that involve scripted members of the Writers Guild of America in writers rooms shut down right away,” Alexander told CBS News.
Late-night talk shows like “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” on CBS, “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on ABC, “The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon” on NBC and “Late Night with Seth Meyers” on NBC have already turned to reruns due to the strike.
Broadcast news shows aren’t affected because the journalists who make up their staffs aren’t WGA members, Alexander added.
“But essentially anything that’s scripted that in effect involves a script that writers would gather and work on — so, shows that are being taped and produced in Hollywood — they largely grind to a halt,” he said.
Writers aren’t permitted to discuss new ideas with studios or each other, which pauses new concept development, too.
More reality TV
Shows with a repository of unreleased episodes still have fresh content to air for the time being.
“If you’re a streaming viewer or if you’re a viewer who is watching shows that have already been stockpiled for networks, you may not see any immediate impact, but if this drags on — which experts say it will — that could cut into the kinds of programming that we might get excited to watch and we could see less of that going around,” Alexander said.
The goal write now for streaming platforms is for viewers not to notice disruptions “for maybe the next quarter,” Alexander said.
Reality TV shows which aren’t based on scripts could also start taking the place of scripted content.
Indeed, the WGA strike which took place 15 years ago spawned reality franchises like “The Real Housewives” and other kinds of unscripted programming.
Studios can also produce documentary content. “But scripted comedies, sitcoms, dramas, all of that right now is a no-go until this is resolved,” Alexander said.
Writers and studios don’t see eye to AI
WGA members are demanding better wages from studios as well as protections that safeguard their jobs from being taken over by artificial intelligence.
Both parties are entrenched in their opposing positions, and have not made any meaningful progress in resolving the conflict.
The strike, according to experts, could easily last more than three months and drag on until late August.
“The studios and streamers on one side, and the roughly more than 10,000 to 12,000 members of the Writers Guild on the other are just so firmly baked into their positions,” Alexander said. “We could very well be into the end of the summer until we see significant progress here.”