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Some shows return to air despite writers strike

Sara Fischer AXIOS
Thought Leader: Sara Fischer
September 15, 2023
Source: AXIOS

Television shows brought to a halt by the ongoing writers strike are starting to announce returns to production, as the strike approaches its fifth month.

Why it matters: As both the writers and actors strikes drag on, television hosts and producers are feeling pressure from other parts of their staff who have been sidelined as a result.

Driving the news: Bill Maher announced Thursday that his late-night show “Real Time With Bill Maher” will be returning to production “sans writers or writing.”

  • “It has been five months, and it is time to bring people back to work. The writers have important issues that I sympathize with, and hope they are addressed to their satisfaction, but they are not the only people with issues, problems, and concerns,” he wrote, adding that much of the show’s staff “is struggling mightily.”

Between the lines: Maher is the first late-night host to announce that his show will be returning.

  • Late-night hosts Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers and John Oliver have launched a joint podcast to raise funds for their striking writers.

Yes, but: Returning to production without writers can be a reputational risk.

  • Actress-turned-daytime talk-show host Drew Barrymore’s invitation to host the National Book Awards has been revoked following her decision last week to resume production of her daytime talk show, the BBC reported.

What they’re saying: Barrymore said on Instagram that she withdrew from her hosting duties at the recent MTV Video Music Awards earlier this year “because of the direct conflict with what the strike was dealing with.”

  • But, she said, “I own the choice” to return her show to production. “I want to be there to provide what writers do so well, which is a way to bring us together or help us make sense of the human experience.”
  • Barrymore noted that her show will not be discussing or promoting any film or television programs, in compliance with the Writers Guild of America strike rules.
  • But the Writers Guild of America still said any writing on The Drew Barrymore Show “is in violation of WGA strike rules.”

The big picture: Hollywood has taken an enormous financial hit in response to the simultaneous writers and actors strikes that still don’t have a clear end in sight.

  • Warner Bros. Discovery last week forecast that it could lose up to $500 million in profits this year, as the strikes continue.
  • Several studios, including WBD, Sony and Disney, have begun delaying movie releases this year.
  • Both writers and actors are demanding better wages, alongside various other protections, including protections from their jobs being displaced by artificial intelligence.

What to watch: The Writers Guild of America and the group representing the movie studios, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, have agreed to resume negotiations next week.

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