Top executives from Hollywood’s major studios held a virtual meeting today amidst increasing speculation of internal divisions within the C-suites and a lack of clear direction to resolve the ongoing writers’ and actors’ strikes.
The meeting included prominent figures such as Dana Walden and Alan Bergman from Disney, Mike Hopkins and Jennifer Salke from Amazon Studios, Ted Sarandos from Netflix, Donna Langley from Universal, and David Zaslav from Warner Bros Discovery.
Notably absent from the meeting is Disney’s CEO, Bob Iger, who has chosen to maintain a distance and let Walden and Bergman take the lead in addressing the labor actions. This strategic approach allows Iger to stay prepared for a more direct involvement when the timing is deemed appropriate.
The backdrop of the meeting is the aftermath of a contentious August 22 gathering that involved Iger, Sarandos, Langley, Zaslav, the AMPTP’s Carol Lombardini, and WGA negotiators. Following this meeting and the studios’ subsequent proposal release, tensions have escalated further. The Writers Guild of America (WGA) rejected the proposal on August 24, describing it as “neither nothing, nor nearly enough,” deepening the mistrust between the parties.
The AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers) has indicated that it is awaiting an official response from the WGA regarding its August 11 offer. The guild, on the other hand, claims to have provided a counterproposal on August 15 and asserts that the ball is now in the studios and streamers’ court.
Amidst these challenges, the newly hired crisis PR firm, the Levinson Group, is expected to navigate the growing tensions between studio CEOs as the strikes continue into their fourth and eighth month for writers and actors respectively.
Sources reveal that internal divisions have contributed to the complicated dynamics among studio and streaming executives. Sarandos reportedly urged WGA leaders to accept the AMPTP’s latest offer during a recent meeting. While there is no lack of assertiveness, some point out that Iger’s strong stance during the August 22 meeting backfired when the studios’ offer was made public the same night.
The ongoing strikes have disrupted Hollywood’s operations and prompted concerns about the lack of new content in the near future. Some studio leaders worry that if the strikes persist, there could be a dry spell in the theatrical release calendar, impacting the production of movies and TV shows.
Despite the rivalry between the studios, today’s meeting seeks to align strategies and avoid negotiating against themselves. As the entertainment industry grapples with these complex labor issues, industry leaders are grappling with the challenge of maintaining a competitive edge while addressing the ongoing labor disputes.
For Reel 360 News’ full strike coverage, click here.