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Harsh Realities of the Writers Strike

Are studios, like those under David Zaslav’s WBD, at least somewhat incentivized to wait out the strike?
Are studios, like those under David Zaslav’s WBD, at least somewhat incentivized to wait out the strike? Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for CinemaCon
Matthew Belloni
May 4, 2023

Twice this week, Carol Lombardini, the lead labor negotiator for the Hollywood studios and streamers, quietly met not with the striking Writers Guild but with Russell Hollander, the national executive director of the Directors Guild. In advance of next week’s formal talks and a June 30 deadline for a new DGA contract, a face-to-face like this—I picture Russ and Carol in long trench coats and spy hats on a shadowy bridge, but alas it was business attire in a Sherman Oaks office building—is pretty normal. It’s table-settling between the studios and the most studio-friendly talent guild—a guild that has gone on strike only once, 40 years ago, and for just a few hours. But this week’s meetings were not typical.

Usually with the DGA, initial proposal documents are traded, so each side has at least a basic framework of what the other wants. And that usually happens six months before the contract expires. Yesterday, no such documents changed hands, I’m told by two sources familiar with the meeting. Instead, amid the ongoing and nastier-by-the-second WGA strike, Lombardini and Hollander talked only in generalities, and it was atypically chilly, per the sources. (The DGA and AMPTP declined to comment.)