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Hollywood writers and studios strike a deal. What's next?


After nearly 150 days, we have a deal tentatively that could end one of the two labor strikes that have brought Hollywood to a standstill. Screenwriters, represented by their Writers Guild of America Union, have agreed to terms in principle with the major studios and streaming services. Now, a contract is not yet signed, and most film and TV production won't yet resume because screen actors, who belong to a separate union, have not negotiated a similar deal. Still, the Writers Guild is calling the working agreement, quote, "exceptional" with "meaningful gains and protections." The Hollywood Reporter's editor-at-large, Kim Masters, is here to fill us in on the latest. Hey there, Kim.

KIM MASTERS: Hey there.

KELLY: OK. So there's a lot we don't know that's not yet public. From what you understand, sketch out what are the key points of this agreement.

MASTERS: Yeah. We don't know for sure, but we believe the writers made big gains in terms of three key demands. So they wanted minimum staffing guarantees for the writers rooms, which had been pared down in recent history. They wanted compensation and success on the streamers. Right now they don't know the data of how things perform, and they don't get extra money if there is a success because they can't document things. And the big, big issue, too - it was artificial intelligence. Writers do not want to be handed a script generated by AI and told to give it a polish.

KELLY: Yeah, and I know that was the very last thing they were haggling over. Still, you know, as they continue to iron out the language on this, the writers union does sound quite excited about it, quite thrilled with the outcome. What about the group representing film and TV studios? Are they equally enthusiastic?

MASTERS: I doubt it. They've been going through a really, really hard time. They're in this moment of transition from the old way, which was the cable bundle, and they could make a lot of money from these cable providers. Streaming is costing them so much. They're hemorrhaging money, except for Netflix. All the other - Disney Paramount - they're all losing millions and millions of dollars on streaming. They haven't figured out yet how to survive, really, in a streaming world. But more and more people are cutting the cord with the cable bundles. So, you know, this is a very difficult time for the studios, and their stock has been challenged. It's been really, really hard.

KELLY: Does this tentative deal to end the writers strike portend anything for the actors, who are still on strike? Their picket line continues.

MASTERS: Yes, I think the studios are going to try to go very quickly to SAG-AFTRA and come up with a deal. And I will note that both you and I are SAG-AFTRA members. But...

KELLY: And I will note we are governed by a different contract, so we are not striking.


KELLY: But SAG-AFTRA does represent the actors, and...


KELLY: They surely are combing through this to see if there's anything that might help their cause.

MASTERS: Oh, absolutely. I mean, they are going to hope that the pattern set by the Writers Guild will apply to a lot of concerns that the actors have, especially artificial intelligence. It's a slightly different concern. The actors are worried about their image being used in ways that they are not comfortable with. So if the Writers Guild came up with really strong language on artificial intelligence, that might help a lot with the screen actors.

KELLY: And last thing - just give us a sense of - does the air feel a little lighter, brighter out there today? Does this give any sense of hope after what has been a really long summer?

MASTERS: Yes. Well, it is Yom Kippur, which many people in Hollywood observe. But definitely there was such relief. There's a bar in North Hollywood where a lot of members of the Writers Guild gathered yesterday evening into the wee hours. And from what I am hearing, it was a very raucous, upbeat celebration. They feel like they've had a big win here.

KELLY: Kim Masters, editor-at-large at The Hollywood Reporter and host of KCRW's The Business. Kim Masters, great to talk to you.

MASTERS: Thank you. It's good to talk to you as well. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Mary Louise Kelly is a co-host of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine.