A group of influential showrunners convened at the WGA Theater in Beverly Hills today to discuss the ongoing Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike. This meeting comes in response to major studios, including Warner Bros. Discovery, Disney, and Paramount, insisting that writer/producers continue with their producing duties during the labor action.
The meeting featured prominent industry figures such as Damon Lindelof, Shawn Ryan, and David Steinberg. Attendees shared their perspectives on the studios’ recent emails, with one showrunner stating, “Now we are more united, more convinced than ever that there is no non-writing aspect of what we do.”
Several showrunners have expressed their belief that their work is inherently connected to writing and have publicly committed not to produce during the strike, which began on Tuesday. Glen Mazzara, the former showrunner of The Walking Dead, mentioned that he stopped performing producing duties on his latest series, AMC’s Beacon 23, in solidarity with the WGA strike. Mazzara also encouraged other showrunners to consider ceasing work on their shows entirely, stating, “We want the strike to be as painful for the companies as possible so that it can be as short as possible so we can get back to work.”
WGA negotiating committee co-chair Chris Keyser spoke at the meeting, which also featured top negotiator Ellen Stutzman, negotiating committee co-chair David Goodman, union secretary-treasurer Betsy Thomas, and president Meredith Stiehm.
Earlier this week, studios began sending out emails to showrunners, requesting them to continue their non-writing duties during the strike. A May 2 letter from Warner Bros. Discovery-owned HBO/HBO Max stated, “However, we believe certain services, such as participating in the cast process and/or contributing to non-writing production, and post-production work are clear examples of non-WGA required services that should continue to be rendered during this time.” Disney sent out a similar message on May 3, asserting that they “intend to stay in production during the WGA strike and we are legally entitled to do so.”
The showrunners’ meeting highlights the complexity of the situation and the various perspectives within the television industry. As the WGA strike continues, it remains to be seen how both the showrunners and studios will navigate the challenges posed by the labor action.