This probably won’t shock you, but Carol Lombardini didn’t want tomorrow’s meeting with the Writers Guild to happen. On a call last week with the studio and streamer leaders, and their top labor executives, the AMPTP president and chief negotiator is said to have advised against sitting down now with the striking writers to feel out a path toward restarting negotiations, according to three sources familiar with the call. (The AMPTP declined to comment.)
Yet the studio-streamer coalition executives—especially, I’m told, Sony Pictures C.E.O. Tony Vinciquerra and the team from Amazon Studios—pressed Lombardini to get back in a room. Vinciquerra, the only major studio leader without a streaming platform, has emerged as an unflashy communicator and a voice of de-escalation among the key AMPTP members. It’s been three months, the argument went. After all the pain inflicted on both sides, let’s just have an initial meeting to see if we are actually committed to working toward a middle ground. “Talks before talks” sounds like an absurdity out of Veep or The Office, but with the fall TV season vanishing and Summer ’24 movies sitting unfinished, the alternative is becoming more and more punishing.
Plus, thanks to backchanneling by labor lawyers and others—the guild lambasted “rumors” of backchanneling in an email to members today, but they have been happening pretty regularly—the studio leaders felt the guild was at least open to productive talks. The WGA leadership was said to be less convinced, given the 90-day stalemate and their deep suspicion of the AMPTP, but they nevertheless agreed to the meeting anyway, according to one source familiar with its leaders’ thinking.