WGA’s Chief Negotiator Ellen Stutzman Joins Picket Line At Netflix, Talks AMPTP Inaction, AI, DGA & Making A Good Deal

Unique: “We told them, and we told them for six weeks of conversation, what they needed to know, and have a real conversation” to meet the demands of the writers. wga chief negotiator Ellen Stutzman From the picket line today on now-closed talks with the studio. “He refused the whole time.”

Amid chants of “Hey NetflixYou’re no good / Pay your writers like you should” and hundreds of protesting guild members outside the streamer’s Sunset Boulevard headquarters, longtime labor leader Stutzman is at it again.

Connected: WGA strike explained: The issues, stakes, movies and TV shows affected – and how long it could last

Less than 24 hours earlier, Stutzman was leading negotiations with the Writers Guild of America’s Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on a new three-year contract. However, late Monday the talks ended with both sides having a clear philosophical disagreement over money, transparency, good security and the fundamental role of writers in the ever-changing industry, the WGA leadership said. declared strike Starting in the early hours of Tuesday.

As picket signs, scribes, stars and other ancillary guilds and unions took to the streets of LA and NYC this afternoon, the first major Hollywood labor action since the 100-day WGA strike of 2007-2008 is clearly an inflection point But reveals an industry.

Connected: what went wrong? Writers and studios reveal what they couldn’t (and could) agree on when the strike was scheduled.

In the center of that, Stutzman stepped outside the picket line today to talk to Deadline about how we got here, what’s at stake, and what needs to be addressed for writers to get back to work.

deadline: When talks ended abruptly last night, AMPTP The WGA sent a statement essentially claiming the negotiators had walked out. that they wanted to keep it going and the guild pulled the plug. As the chief interlocutor, what is your perspective on what happened on Monday?

Stutzman: I wish any of these were true. I wish they were willing to give us anything more than a very modest raise that doesn’t even address inflation and certainly the decline writers have seen in pay over the last decade.

Connected: Deadline’s Full Strike Coverage

We didn’t go out. We told them, and we told them about six weeks of talks, what they should do to meet the writers’ demands, and have a real conversation.

deadline: And their response?

Stutzman: He kept refusing the whole time. All they said yesterday was, get rid of these offers, and maybe we’ll give you a little more. And this is not acceptable to the authors.

WGA Strike – Netflix Los Angeles

Dominic Patton

deadline: It probably sounds silly to ask, but as the top person at the table, why do you think this attitude was Tune Lombardini and AMPTP?

Stutzman: This is a very good question. I will just say, the whole time it felt like they were out of touch with what was happening with their workforce.

deadline: We’re standing next to the WGA picket line here at Netflix On Sunset. Clearly streamers and the changes they brought to the industry in terms of pay, expectations and more were major issues in the talks. What would you say to Ted Sarandos and crew about what needs to happen to get writers back to work?

Stutzman: In terms of what’s needed for screenwriters and television writers and comedy variety writers, we’ve kept that’s exactly what we offer. I think we have clarified what is needed to improve residuals as these companies have removed the middleman. He’s said I’m going to take a service, and I’m going to distribute that content all over the world, cut out all the middlemen and cut out all the residuals that writers, actors and directors have shared for decades .

They have to pay more in residuals to capture the global growth of their services, and they should be paid residuals based on success. It used to be revenue, now its audience.

It’s really unfortunate that the companies didn’t want to address things that are really reasonable and basic and fundamental to how things work here, and in television in particular, how it’s been built over decades upon decades. Our view is that they want to get over it and they don’t want to put writers in the process anymore. And they want it to be a freelance gig economy, and they’re fine with that. were not

deadline: In that vein, transparency was also on the table with streamers, who, like most tech companies, haven’t been so quick to share data like viewership. What was the transaction on the table with AMPTP about this?

Stutzman: (Laughs) There was no transaction.

deadline: In fact?

Stutzman: They don’t want to do it. They don’t want to be transparent. And it’s a problem for this whole city. Funny thing is, I expect this to change because they all want advertisers to help them fund their services. They need to start telling people who watch these shows and how many, and that’s it. This is a major demand.

Look, I think this industry compact with your creative talent needs to remember that you have to pay them adequate compensation and residuals so that they remain the highly skilled available workforce. You create the most profitable entertainment content in the world. And you have to address the AI.

deadline: Well on top of that, in a document comparing proposals, so to speak, that the Guild announced a strike last night, it seemed to discuss advances in studio technology when the WGA wanted to regulate AI. Wanted to meet once a year. , I feel like they were keeping the door open for the AI ​​to be used as a creative force in writing scripts…

Stutzman: Dominic, they refused to talk to us about AI until Sunday.

deadline: seriously?

Stutzman: Yes. On 30th April they made us an offer that they would agree that MBA already says that a writer is a person and they would meet us once a year.

That’s it, and it’s unacceptable.

We’re so concerned during this conversation about what’s come out with AI that these things have nothing to do with script writing. They exist only because they have taken all my members and all the others have written to produce some productive text. And so, that needs to be addressed in this talk, and they won’t address that.

deadline: Back in 2008, the studio finally adopted a divide and conquer strategy to end the last WGA strike. They struck a deal with the DGA when you guys were on strike and that deal became leverage for the writers to go back to work. The DGA went out of its way this year to talk with the studio’s position so that the WGA could go first, but their talks are currently scheduled to begin on May 10. To rule the WGA?

Stutzman: I think whatever deal the Directors Guild makes can’t solve the writer’s issues. So, if companies think this is a 2007, 2008 solution, they are absolutely wrong. dead wrong.

deadline: You suddenly became the guild’s main negotiator after health problems this year bypassing WGA Executive Director David Young. This is a great start for anyone, how has it been for you?

Stutzman: Well, I’ve been chatting since 2014. So, I have a lot of experience being there. We have an amazing staff. We have an amazing group of member leaders, and we have a process and that’s how we do it. Yes, being the person leading it is challenging but it is a great team effort and we do everything together.

deadline: Speaking of which, it sounds like a different tone this time around, striking out for the first time in 15 years. What has happened in the last 24 hours and what is happening today, what do you want from the city, the authorities, the studios?

Stutzman: I think the writers are incredibly united, ready to strike and take the necessary action to get a good deal. We are always ready to talk. Now it’s really up to the companies, the studios, and the streamers to decide whether they want to end the pain they’re causing everyone.

I’ll just say that the amount of money they’ve spent and continue to spend on writer-created content makes it clear that they desperately need writers. So, they have to come and do the deal.