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The Writers Guild of America met again with representatives of major studios on Thursday, as negotiators continued to search for a way toward resolving the writers’ 108-day strike.
The chief executives of major studios — including Netflix’s Ted Sarandos and Warner Bros. Discovery’s David Zaslav — are also expected to hold a joint call on Friday to discuss the next step in the talks. NBCUniversal’s Donna Langley and Disney’s Dana Walden and Alan Bergman are also expected to star.
The decision remained elusive, however, after the WGA submitted its response to the latest proposal from the Motion Picture and Television Producers Alliance on Tuesday. The two sides remain far apart on many items, including minimal television staffing and remaining viewership-based broadcasts.
Several sources on the studio’s side stated they were shocked and disappointed by the guild’s response. They also said they were reluctant to “negotiate with ourselves” to reach an agreement.
But one avenue for potential progress is to seek agreement in limited areas where the two sides are closer together, and hope it creates momentum for deals on more difficult issues.
The CEOs have taken a personal interest in securing a deal, as they also face business challenges on several other fronts this fall. Senior executives have also faced criticism over their pay packages and scrutiny of their public remarks about the strike.
The CEOs participated in the presentation to the WGA last Friday that included provisions on the size of the television crew and transparency in the performance of streaming shows. The sources expressed the view that the offer was generous and hoped it would lead to a breakthrough in the negotiations. The WGA counter provided a basis for numbers, but not for the basic structure of its proposals.
WGA leaders have warned members to ignore studio leaks, but otherwise have not provided an official update on the talks since last Friday.
Negotiations were led by AMPTP, the entity that negotiates on behalf of major studios and more than 200 other companies. But the final decisions about how to proceed rest with the top executives.
The WGA released a report Thursday criticizing Netflix, Amazon and Disney for abusing their dominant position in the industry to cut writers’ salaries. The union also called on antitrust regulators to prevent further mergers between entertainment companies.
Jennifer Mass contributed to this story.
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