The School Newspaper of Cherry Hill High School East


The School Newspaper of Cherry Hill High School East


The School Newspaper of Cherry Hill High School East


Hollywood returns: studios reach deals following historic WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes

Athira Kasthuri (‘27)

A new season of a favorite show, an exciting behind-the-scenes sneak peek: these were expected updates in the entertainment industry. Then, they suddenly stopped.

Remy Abrams (‘21), a junior at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts majoring in Writing for Screen and Television, witnessed new updates instead. Film school emails flooded her inbox updating her on the status of her future, conversations speculating on the changes in the industry she was looking to join.

“Everywhere you went you would see people on strike,” Abrams said.

The Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), two guilds involved in the movie and television industry, went on strike against Hollywood. The writers strike began May 2023 for the Writers Guild and July 2023 for the Screen Actors Guild, for reasons such as not receiving a high enough pay for their work, as well as little to no staffing in the writers room. SAG-AFTRA joined the strike on July 14, 2023, regarding changes in the industry due to problems with artificial intelligence (AI) and the effect of streaming on their residual earnings. Thousands of guild members participated in the strike, leaving the TV industry isolated, and shut down the production of many shows.

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The strikes affected release dates and television events set to occur in 2023 as well. Originally supposed to be September 18, the 75th Annual Emmy Awards was postponed to January 15, 2024. Additionally, shows like “Abbott Elementary,” “Stranger Things,” “The Last of Us” and “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which were set to have season premieres, faced production setbacks. As a result of the strike, fans had to wait longer for the series to release new episodes. Yet beyond the effects on the guild members and the fans, Abrams, who also works at a production
company, was able to experience the strike herself from many different angles.

“It was kind of cool to see both sides of it, because obviously, I’m a writer, and all my teachers are writers who are fully in the industry and who were on strike themselves, versus, you
know, kind of like studio executive producers’ business side of it. So I kind of got both,” said Abrams.

Following deliberation from the various stakeholders in the strike, on September 25, 148 days later, the WGA strike finally came to an end. The writers and the studio came to a tentative three-year deal that granted the writers transparency in viewer rates, residual payments, which is compensation towards the writers for use of their content, and setting a minimum of three in a writing room, granting more job opportunities. Almost two months later, the SAG-AFTRA strike came to an end with a tentative deal to end the strike. Worth more than one billion dollars, this deal includes compensation increases, and consent towards use of AI, making this the biggest contract deal in the history of the union.

One cornerstone of the strike was determining the role of AI in the entertainment industry. There were concerns that the development of AI may take away jobs from writers due to its role in script writing, thus taking away credit from the writers. The Writers Guild demanded that AI be prevented from being a source of material and a credited writer. When the strike began, it was five months after the release of Chat- GPT, a major source of artificial intelligence that could write essays and construct conversations based on prompts given. The writers were skeptical of the idea of the technology, as it could one day take their jobs. However, studios wanted to wait until 2026 to deal with any issues surrounding it. This only angered the writers more, providing
another reason for them to go on strike. Yet, at the end of the strike, the writers were able to receive some benefits.

“The guild gained protections against the use of AI because AI is becoming huge. And it didn’t exactly eliminate the option of people using AI to write, but no real content can be produced without a human writer… so that helps data transparency and residuals,” said Abrams.

From here, the agreement will allow for more changes within the industry. Abrams described what she thought the future held for the writers.

“I think the pay will make people actually want to pursue screenwriting more,” she said.

Amidst the strike, SAG-AFTRA created Halloween costume guidelines which entailed dressing up as a generalized character such as a zombie or witch, and to avoid posting pictures inspired by movie/TV characters to prevent backlash for celebrities during the strike. However, tensions
were still high despite the strike ending.

Actor Megan Fox, known for her roles in “Transformers” and “Jennifer’s Body,” along with singer-songwriter Colson Baker, better known as Machine Gun Kelly (MGK), made an
appearance at the “Casamigos” Halloween party, hosted by George Clooney, Rande Gerber and Michael Meldman, where they were photographed dressed as “Kill Bill: Volume 1” in reference to the 2003 thriller movie directed by Quentin Tarantino. This completely disregarded SAG-AFTRA’s rules, and led to backlash, which caused SAG-AFTRA to clarify the costume rule. While the strike has now ended, it is evident that its effects were widespread, from how actors dressed during Halloween to the future of their careers.

The end of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes brought more opportunities and jobs for writers
on shows and movies, allowing more people to be involved in the industry, and granting them more compensation for their work. These strikes have not only brought joy to the writers and actors but also the satisfaction of fighting for what they believe in—culminating in deals that will benefit the industry for years to come.

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About the Contributors
Sarah Begun
Sarah Begun, Eastside Online Sports Editor
Sarah Begun is a sophomore and the Online Sports Editor for Eastside. Outside of Eastside, she loves hanging out with friends, playing lacrosse, and watching her favorite TV shows. Sarah's excited for this year and can't wait to work with everyone!
Laavanya Viswanathan
Laavanya Viswanathan, Eastside Online Community Editor
Laavanya is one of Eastside's Online Community Editors this year. When she's not in school, she's playing soccer, listening to her favorite songs, or rewatching her favorite shows like New Girl. She is so excited for her first year on board!!

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