More than 140 days into the WGA strike, the latest resumption of talks today between the scribes and studios and steamers are leaving nothing to chance.
Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, Disney’s Bob Iger, Universal’s Donna Langley and Warner Bros Discovery’s David Zaslav are joining negotiating teams for both sides sitting down at the AMPTP’s Sherman Oaks offices right now.
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“There’s an impetus to find a real pathway to an agreement now, and to close that [deal],” a studio insider told Deadline Wednesday. “The CEOs have to be directly engaged – to show the writers we’re serious.”
It is unclear how personally involved, if at all, the CEO Gang of Four will be in further talks anticipated later this week.
Contrary to the expectations of some and his recent CNN interview stressing his involvement talking to the WGA and the AMPTP, Gavin Newsom is not a participant in today’s talks. The California governor is in NYC today talking about climate change at the UN. Newsom did not call into the talks, which started a 10 a.m. PT, I’m told.
Seeking to paper over divisions in their ranks in recent weeks, Wednesday’s active attendance by the CEO Gang of Four is by far from the first time the execs have gotten down and dirty in the bitter labor action. Along with the admittedly disastrous August 22 meeting with AMPTP chief Carol Lombardini and WGA negotiators Ellen Stutzman and others, Iger, Sarandos, Langley, Zaslav have been working their angles and back-channeling to various degrees — each with their own agenda in what is essentially an AMPTP board of directors.
As of last week, the AMPTP was insisting that the WGA had to formally respond to its August 11 proposal, which the studios and streamers made public on August 22 in a failed attempt to go around guild leadership and influence members. The WGA long has said that it did respond to the August 11 proposal on August 15 and it was up to the AMPTP to make the next move.
Worried that everything remained at a stalemate, taking on bad press and bad bottom lines as picket lines grew and stock prices fell, the CEOs formally met virtually on August 30 in an effort to move the status quo. After some chatter in the background, on September 14, the AMPTP accepted the WGA’s request for new talks, and a September 20 start date was unveiled earlier this week. In the past 24 hours, the CEOs have had at least one, if not two, virtual meetings to prepare for today’s negotiations.
Announcing last week that they were going to start directly bargaining for the second time since the strike began in early May, both the WGA and the AMPTP are staying mute this week on the state of the talks, for now,
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