After prolonged negotiations didn’t result in a new contract with the AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers), the Writers Guild of America declared a strike, putting to a halt any writing work for guild members. This will have a big impact in Hollywood and across the entertainment industry and could also impact the Star Trek Universe.
The WGA has been seeking changes that include how production companies and studios pay out residuals for streaming. According to the WGA, changes in the industry over the past decade have resulted in the median writer’s inflation-adjusted pay going down 23%. The writers are also concerned about a trend towards smaller writers rooms. In a statement released this morning, the WGA referred to these changes as an “existential crisis writers are facing,” explaining “We must now exert the maximum leverage possible to get a fair contract by withholding our labor.”
Picketing begins today, with a schedule for locations in Los Angeles and New York posted by the Guild; they include Paramount Global—Paramount Pictures in Hollywood and two CBS studio locations in Los Angeles. According to union rules, no WGA members are allowed to do any writing (including rewriting) or even negotiate for new writing work during the strike. Some productions will immediately shut down, such as late-night talk shows; however, other productions can continue using completed scripts. While other entertainment unions are voicing their solidarity with the WGA, all current contracts contain no-strike clauses, so no other unions will be joining them. The Teamsters Union has advised members they can honor picket lines, which is protected under contract.
Strange New Worlds writer (and WGA strike captain) Bill Wolkoff showed himself a setting up the picket line at CBS Television City in Los Angeles on Tuesday afternoon
Just getting set up at CBS Television City. Let’s do this thing. #WGAStrong #UnionStrong pic.twitter.com/DRvxgIyB62
— Bill Wolkoff (@flying_lobster) May 2, 2023
The last WGA strike ran for 14 weeks between Nov 2007 to February 2008. The J.J. Abrams 2009 Star Trek movie was filmed on the Paramount lot in Hollywood during that strike even as the studio was being picketed. A WGA strike in 1988 had a big impact on the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, including resulting in a shortened season.
Star Trek set to weather the strike
The strike just started, so it’s still unknown how long it will last and how much of an impact it will have on the industry. This strike comes as no surprise to the studios, who have been planning around it and banking as many scripts as possible. While the 2023 slate of Star Trek shows expected on Paramount+ won’t be impacted, there could be an impact in the future, but it depends on the project…
Little to no impact on animated shows
The WGA contract only applies to live-action and feature films, so there should be no impact on the two animated Star Trek shows. Writing for season 2 of Prodigy was completed in 2022 and writing for the fifth season of Lower Decks appears to still be underway, but both animated Star Trek shows fall under The Animation Guild (TAG) contract, which is still current. The fourth season of Lower Decks is already in post-production and is due this summer. The second season of Prodigy will debut later this year with the first 10 episodes, the second batch of ten likely arriving in 2024.
Prodigy co-executive producer Aaron Waltke showed his solidarity with WGA writers while spelling out that Prodigy is covered under the TAG contract.
Our show is covered by The Animation Guild, but we went through this last year.
Fair wages for profitable shows is always a reasonable ask. pic.twitter.com/rrLE79GGKr
— Aaron J. Waltke (@GoodAaron) May 2, 2023
Strange New Worlds season 3 could potentially shoot during strike
The WGA strike does apply to writers working on live-action Star Trek projects. Current active projects officially include the two series Strange New Worlds and Starfleet Academy, and the Section 31 TV-movie. As of today, no new writing for any of these shows can be done until a new contract is negotiated. A number of Star Trek writers have taken to social media to show their support for the strike and the WGA, like Strange New Worlds co-showrunner Henry Alonso Myers.
— Henry Alonso Myers (@alonsomyers) May 2, 2023
The strike will have no impact on the upcoming second season of Strange New Worlds, which wrapped up production last year and is set to debut on June 15. The strike affect the recently announced third season of the show, which was expected to go into production this summer. Writing began before the official announcement and it is quite possible many (if not most) of the 10 scripts for the season have been completed. Even though the Strange New Worlds writers (and all Trek TV writers rooms) are based in Los Angeles, the show is produced in Canada, so there probably won’t be any picketing at the studio. WGA members who are also producers can continue to work on shows in that capacity; modern Star Trek shows often have writer/producers on set to work with the cast and crew, so that can continue although they would not be able to make any changes to any scripts. If this on-set flexibility is important to Paramount, they could delay production until the strike ends, especially if they are also worried about additional strikes (more on that later).
Even though they may be voicing solidarity with the WGA, members of the cast would be expected to work during a strike if Paramount chose to start production anyway. The actors’ union SAG-AFTRA advised members to “continue to work” on projects that were in production during the strike. The union suggested members could walk the picket lines to show their solidarity during non-working hours. Strange New Worlds star Anson Mount showed his solidarity on social media, saying he stands with the WGA.
I stand with the WGA. Stay strong, friends. This is important for all of us in the business. @WGAWest @WGAEast https://t.co/v3KTqAdHy5
— Anson Mount 🖖 (@ansonmount) May 2, 2023
Discovery season 5 should still arrive in early 2024
Production on the fifth and final season of Discovery wrapped up in late 2022 and Paramount+ has set an early 2024 debut. The one wrinkle is the planned extended season finale, which will now include some additional scenes to make it work as a series finale. Like Strange New Worlds, Discovery is shot in Toronto. As the WGA strike was highly anticipated, it’s likely Paramount+ ensured a script for any new scenes was already complete to avoid any issues in case of an extended strike. The reshoots were announced two months ago and are likely already complete, and if not would likely already have been written and ready to be shot well ahead of the season 5 debut in early 2024.
Like the casts of other shows, Discovery actors are showing their support for the WGA. Anthony Rapp tweeted his solidarity earlier today.
I stand in solidarity with the @WGAWest & @WGAEast. #UnionStrong #WritersGuildofAmerica pic.twitter.com/22wFGYSMVC
— Anthony Rapp on Mastodon @firstname.lastname@example.org (@albinokid) May 2, 2023
Pencils down for Starfleet Academy
The other live-action show will feel the impact of the strike. The writers’ room for the recently announced Star Trek: Starfleet Academy series was still active, so that work will stop. Other development work could continue with WGA members working in their capacity as producers only. Production for the Academy show was set to start in Canada in early 2024, and they could potentially stick to that schedule by making up time after the strike ends unless it drags on longer than the one in 2007. In the case of a prolonged strike, the production schedule would move back, which would likely push the release, although Paramount+ has not yet set an official target anyway.
Showing her solidarity (and Trek nerdiness), Starfleet Academy writer (and voice of Mariner in Lower Decks) Tawny Newsome shared a tweet from Deep Space Nine writer Robert Hewitt Wolfe who posted an image from the workers’ rights-themed DS9 episode “Bar Association.”
— Robert Hewitt Wolfe (@writergeekrhw) May 2, 2023
Unclear impact on Section 31 movie
Another recently announced project is the Star Trek: Section 31 TV-movie event starring Michelle Yeoh, which has been in development since 2019, recently pivoting away from a series into a Paramount+ made-for-streaming TV-movie. Paramount is hoping to go into production later this year. Writer Craig Sweeny was part of the original writers’ room set up back in 2020. For a film project to get a green light, it usually requires a completed script draft, especially so it can be budgeted based on set pieces and required visual effects, so it’s likely other work on this project can continue during the strike. If the script needs rewrites or updates, that work would have to wait. However, due to Michelle Yeoh’s busy schedule, Paramount will be highly motivated to keep to their plan or risk losing the Academy Award-winning star.
Star Trek 4 feature film?
Unlike 2007, J.J. Abrams is not ready to go into production on a Star Trek movie. He has been touting the script for his fourth Trek feature film, but there is still no indication if or when Paramount Pictures will move ahead on the project, which has bigger issues to deal with than a WGA strike.
No developing new projects… like Legacy
Meetings regarding new projects are disallowed under WGA’s strike rules, which cover any new pitches for feature films or scripted television. While there wasn’t any indication Paramount+ was ready to move forward on the development of any new Trek shows, this would put a pause on any potential talks between Picard showrunner Terry Matalas and Paramount regarding a possible “Star Trek: Legacy” spin-off.
As for Matalas, he also shared his support for the strike on Twitter.
— Terry Matalas (@TerryMatalas) May 2, 2023
Things could get worse
Any short strike will have a negligible impact on Star Trek, but the longer the strike goes on, the bigger the risk to upcoming productions with Strange New Worlds season 3 the most likely to be impacted. All the studios are under pressure from Wall Street to cut costs, so getting an agreement to increase labor costs is an uphill battle. But those same studios are also reliant on a steady flow of new scripted content.
The big fear in Hollywood right now is this could be just the first of multiple strikes. The actors guild (SAG-AFTRA) and directors guild (DGA) contracts both end on June 30. Both unions have voiced their solidarity with the writers and have many of the same issues. If either of those unions goes on strike, all production would cease until new contracts could be negotiated, and that would impact production on season 3 of Strange New Worlds if Paramount goes ahead with shooting this summer. Paramount may wait to start any new productions until deals with the directors and actors are done, which could happen even before the WGA strike is resolved. If the strike goes longer, it could even interfere with the Section 31 movie as well.
This is a developing story and TrekMovie will be monitoring things so check back for updates.
Seems like they only recently started filming SNW season three. A months-long strike would shut them down.
The way I understand it from the last strike, as long as they’ve already banked the scripts, they can continue shooting those, but rewrites can’t happen.
If only the article you’re commenting on discussed exactly what you’re speculating about…
I have to admit I’m not a lawyer. I read the article but I am still not sure on how it works if scripts are alreay written but not yet filmed.
According to the article, if the scripts are already written, they can use those scripts exactly as they are, but they can’t change anything about the scripts. So if it runs long, or if a line seems out of character, they can’t change that.
Ahh I see. I’m wondering if the new ending for Discovery is already written or not.
Technically, if the actors and director are not in the WGA they can improvise changes on set. That happened on Quantum of Solace, for example. You can run a scene and make changes as you would have done normally, but you can’t employ anyone as an actual writer on set, and that’s the huge handicap.
They have to shoot whatever is currently on the page. If there were notes on revising scenes or dialogue that were not addressed prior to the strike, they have to use whatever the most current draft of the script is. This is what happened with Star Trek 2009. Once production began they couldn’t stray from the last submitted draft.
Oh interesting, I didn’t know about DST 2009
He’s not exactly speculating though. It’s a fact.
Yes, but what Bryant Burnette appears to be trying to point out here, is that the article discusses exactly that!
So, we’re dealing with redundancy from commenters for commenters that both don’t seem to have read the full article… this place is a writer’s paradise, innit?! 😆
lol!. True that.
Filming isn’t a problem since the scripts are written.
Well, they can always dust off the script for The Child again.
And Devil’s Due. Don’t forget Devil’s Due.
This could be a fun thread! What script/episode would you love to see remade (as if it was never made in the first place)?
I’d love to see a SNW version of TNG’s ‘Night Terrors’!
You know Trek has stagnated when first of all fans only seem to want legacy characters and now they want legacy episodes re-made.
Bond fans can be the same. During the Craig era, given the series was rebooted, a surprising number of fans wanted the producers to remake the older films, like Goldfinger. Really.
That is so not what my reply was about. It was a fun what-if thing. Nothing more, nothing less.
Great summary. Also worth mentioning that unless there’s specific language in the deal, there’s a nonzero chance Paramount/Viacom (and all the studios, for that matter) could invoke force majeure clauses to back out of their overall/development deals with writers/production companies (e.g. Secret Hideout).
And replace them with non union writers, poisoning the relationship with the guild? I doubt that. Also, what scab would take that job? They’d be banned from the union for all time.
Whoa whoa whoa, where did “scab” come from? I just mean they could cancel the deal at some point. That’s it. If something like that happens — and it’s not just Secret Hideout who *could* (and, again, I don’t know the particulars of their deal) be impacted by this; any number of writers with overall deals are potentially affected — then, at the conclusion of the strike, Paramount could sign a new deal with whoever they wanted to oversee Star Trek. There’s plenty of chatter at the agent/manager level that one thing the studios will be looking to do is clear their books of long-term, expensive overall/development deals.
In no way was I suggesting that Paramount could cancel their deals and immediately resume Star Trek writing while there’s a strike going on. I’m saying the strike might allow studios to invoke “force majeure” to cancel their talent/development deals so that when the strike(s) end, they don’t have as many long-term commitments.
If such a thing happened with SH, then Paramount could bring in somebody else to run Trek (for far less money, natch). That’s the gist of it.
Nah, I’d say there zero chance of that happening. Any studio engaging in such blatant union busting tactics would get crushed.
See my response to LordCrust. Never suggest nor certainly did not mean to imply a union busting scenario.
So, what exactly would be the point of exercising a potential force majeure clause on Secret Hideout, only to hire them back when the strike is over?
If they canceled the deal then they probably wouldn’t hire them back! That doesn’t mean they would hire people to scab while a strike is going on! They would probably not sign a producer to such a large mega deal to oversee an IP if they backed out of SH. Massive overall deals to writing talent such as Kurtzman, Ryan Murphy, and Shonda Rimes (with the latter two being far bigger deals) are a recent industry trend that the studios want to pivot away from as fast as possible.
All deleting an overall deal with Secret Hideout would serve to do is reduce the cost of Star Trek on the balance sheet. That $25-$30 million a year doesn’t go into the physical production of the show, it’s to buy Secret Hideout’s exclusivity with Paramount/Viacom.
So, why would any other production house sign up to work with Paramount on Trek (or any other P+ property, for that matter) after Paramount engages in the massive buttf**king of SH you’re suggesting here? What you’re suggesting kills Trek. The lawsuit alone would likely set P+ back a few hundred million.
What would the lawsuit be over? How does it kill Star Trek? “Why would any other production house sign up to work with Paramount” — it’s show business.
Breech of contract. There’s no cause for Paramount to break the contract, outside of the strike. Likely a nine figure lawsuit would result. If the studios engaged in this behavior industry wide, then you throw collusion into the mix. Another lawsuit. MLB tried this years ago, and got their heads handed to them. Paramount wouldn’t win, with penalties in the high eight/low nine figures.
So, you’re a production house, with union writers/actors/directors, and you just watched Paramount f**k over one of their production houses during a strike. Why would you, as a business owner, do business with someone who’ll shove you under the bus in a monumental act of stupidity? It’s not like Paramount is the only game in town.
Oh, okay. You don’t know what force majeure is. Got it.
I know what it is. You’re the one peddling the dubious notion that it could be invoked to void a lawful contract or exercised as a union busting measure. I’d guarantee one hundred percent that if any studio tried that, that both the company’s involved and the union would turn loose the lawyers in a heartbeat. You seem pissed that no one thinks it’s a great idea.
I’m not peddling anything beyond there being a “nonzero” possibility of FM. That could be 2% of a chance. It could be 0.01%. But it exists because it’s a clause in most contracts. Its use, therefore, would not be a breach of contract. I have not even offered it as being a good or bad idea. The article topic is about all the ways the Writers Strike could impact Star Trek and that is simply one remote and — as Will points out, highly improbable — possibility. BUT, it’s something that’s happened before in this very business as the result of guild strikes. There’s an article in the LA Times from April 10 that talks about all this. Sorry to have offended you.
There’s a nonzero chance of winning the next lottery, if you buy a ticket. It would be idiotic to buy the mansion before you know you have a winner. There’s a nonzero chance Alex Kurtzman gets hit by lightning. Force Majeure clauses apply to natural or human causes that couldn’t be reasonably anticipated. Everyone has known about this for months. Not offended in the least, at a minimum it’s been an interesting read to watch someone stick to their guns on a obscenely bad idea. Unfortunately, not an uncommon occurrence these days.
Actual lawyer here, and although you’re correct about the possibility, I’d say the actual probability is pretty close to zero. You’re right that “strikes” are one of the many (many) items in the laundry list of contingencies in a force majeure clause, they’d need a really, really good business reason to do something like that.
Definitely. The article is about how the strike *could* impact Star Trek and that’s the only reason I brought it up. I don’t know if clawing back $75-$100 million (the rest of this calendar year and the last three years of the deal) counts as “a really, really good business reason” from a legal standpoint, but I’d think that’s the only reason they’d do that if it did happen.
You keep insisting you’re not proposing union busting, and then keep throwing out union busting scenarios. The strike is affecting the entire industry, not just Secret Hideout. It’s highly unlikely that the production agreement was cash in advance, so there’s nothing to claw back. For arguments sake, lets say there was, and you clawed it back. To avoid any impact on Trek, Paramount would have to hire non union help to keep things going. If you’re not going to do that, your entire exercise is pointless, except to stick your finger in SH and the unions eye. And whatever contract you signed with a new production company would cost more then the one you canceled.
My mistake for saying “clawed back.” The rest of the above comment doesn’t have anything to do with using force majeure to get out of the deal. You’re the one doing the bad math of “if deal canceled then they proceed to immediately replace it with scab work.” I’ll say again, though, and keep it simple: the strike creates a potential condition for the Secret Hideout deal with Paramount to be killed.
As Will points out, this is a highly improbable scenario, especially since Strange New Worlds still exists and the Secret Hideout team is involved with that (and it would be weird from a professional standpoint if they had the Star Trek universe “taken away” from them except for this one show — LD and Prodigy have the SH team’s names all over them but as far as I know they’re hands off with those shows). I only brought it up because this article is about all the possible consequences the WGA strike could have for Star Trek.
If the deal were to be canceled, then Paramount would be on the hook for figuring out who manages this profitable brand going forward. Maybe they don’t sign a new WGA writer to a massive overall deal to do it, maybe they use their own executive team to manage it in house and hire WGA writers & producers as needed (you know, how they used to do it in the Berman era), but all of those decisions would have to be made *after* a new agreement with the WGA (and the other guilds) is set.
If the deal were to be canceled, then Paramount would be on the hook for figuring out who manages this profitable brand going forward.
Exactly why it’s not in Paramount’s interest to terminate the deal.
I don’t think it can be reasonably argued that Paramount has ever been a well-managed company! It has sort of always been lucky to get by. Universal had no problem ditching Secret Hideout the moment they could — in that case, they had the cover of The Mummy being a bomb. If we see a run of canceled overall deals during this strike, I can see Paramount using it as cover, too. After all, this is a nutty town filled with stupid people.
Will’s being polite, what you’re dangling out there would be a case of monumental stupidity if someone at Paramount entertained that idea for even a fraction of a second. Paramount has no basis whatsoever to cancel the contract.
Is that simple enough?
It’s true that people back out on contracts. All the time. I’ve done it. But assuming you’re not taking advantage of a termination for convenience clause, you would really need a solid economic reason to do so, because you’re literally breaching a contract and if there’s enough money at stake, you will be sued. And commercial litigation is insanely expensive. Now in this case, there’s nothing out there to indicate that SH has materially failed to live up to their obligations under their agreement with Paramount. If there were, this would allow Paramount to terminate the agreement for cause. Assuming this isn’t the case, if Paramount decides to breach the agreement themselves, they will not only have to settle an eight or nine figure lawsuit, they’ll have to worry about the reputation damage that would ensue in their industry.
I highly doubt there’s anything to “claw back” in their deal. There’s no reason whatsoever for Paramount to terminate their agreement with SH.
Yeah, my mistake. Should’ve just said “save themselves a decent chunk in development costs over the next 3.5 years.”
The only thing that Paramount saves (assuming SH doesn’t sue them into oblivion, I could see lawyers lining up all day long for that) is this stunt shuts down Trek for good.
Don’t understand the hostile nature of these comments. Paramount owns the IP and force majeure is a contract clause in most deals.
Incorrect. The IP is owned by ViacomCBS, of which Paramount is a subsidiary.
You just sound like another person peddling conspiracy theories because you don’t like Alex Kurtzman.
From los angeles times “Tensions from the last writers’ strike cast a shadow over current labor fight” by Meg James:
Studio executives, however, privately grouse that writers lost more than they gained — particularly after companies invoked so-called force majeure clauses in writer contracts midway through the strike. The move, a French term for “greater force,” enabled studios to cancel generous “overall deals,” which compensated TV scribes even if their shows were not picked up. Some media companies are struggling to manage billions of dollars in debt incurred by recent acquisitions. And it’s unclear whether corporate chieftains would view a possible strike as a way, at least in the short term, to save money on production costs. Executives at those firms have been scouring cupboards for projects to dump. Disney has launched a program to cut $5.5 billion in costs, including eliminating 7,000 jobs.
From los angeles times “Hollywood’s writers are on strike. Here are five things you need to know” by Anousha Sakoui
Macro conditions do not point to a quick resolution. It’s not clear how willing studios will be to cut a deal at a time when many entertainment companies such as Walt Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery are being roiled by cutbacks and layoffs as Wall Street investors pressure them to increase the profitability of their streaming platforms.
Some studios may even view a walkout as an opportune time to scrap unprofitable writer deals through so-called force-majeure clauses in contracts.
At worst, I’m peddling news reporting offered in a major newspaper based in and reporting from the heart of the strike.
Lol. You’re still spreading conspiracy theories that Paramount will fire their production team — not their writers — simply because you don’t like them.
Because there is zero evidence to suggest either will happen at this point, and zero evidence that their current deal is one of the unprofitable ones that the article cites.
You’re a nonsense commenter.
If you’re bent out of shape that everyone isn’t in agreement that what you’ve suggest is a great idea, that’s on you.
This is annoying. I wish they would just give the writers what they want so we can move on.
From everything we’ve seen, the pay for writers is completely unrealistic, and writers assistants aren’t making a living income. This is unsustainable.
The one-time payments for a credited script are very low (tens of thousands for an episode costing close to ten million) and residuals immaterial for digital originals.
Worse, on some shows, showrunners are giving themselves co-writing credits on every episode, so the other writers only get partial credit and payouts.
It’s really the producer credits of various kinds that are providing residuals. Which is why we see many shows (not just Trek) with long lists of EPs and Co-EPs.
Yeah, so I don’t get why this is so complicated. Just pay them more.
Apply this same ‘sounds reasonable’ argument to doctors at HMOs and nurses everywhere, along with retail workers, then see what it gets you. Sharing a piece of the pie is anathema to TPTB.
That all sounds reasonable. One person can only eat so much pie. It’s good to share.
When a script credit is worth less than $30k and a writer can work for a season on base and just get one script, it’s not paying a living wage in LA.
We won’t get good diverse shows if young writers have to rely on the ‘bank of Mummy and Daddy’ to subsidize them while they are assistants breaking into the industry.
Agree 100%, and that was a primary reason I never moved to L.A. back in my 20s, on the limited hope I could write my way there from less expensive distances. I’m just saying the ‘keep the money at the top’ aspect of the 1% is as true in Hollywood as anyplace else, and there is a tradition of ‘screw the writer’ that goes back a century, else you wouldn’t still be hearing hoary chestnuts like, ‘did you hear about the polish starlet? she was so dumb she ____ed the writer.’
I remember breaking down the costs for VFX and teleplay for TNG back around 1988 or so, and realizing these two main ingredients were such an amazingly small percentage of the actual budget (Rob Legato at one point said early TNG was budgeting 75 grand per ep for VFX, out of 1.2 mil. That barely 1/2 percent is an amazing comedown even from TOS if I remember that show’s numbers.)
It stuns me that the guild hasn’t struck more often given the way they’ve gotten screwed over, and it appalls me that vfx folk don’t even have any kind of union to barter for them.
One of my more arm’s length professional acquaintances tried the NY theatre scene after college, and says it is full of trust fund types, the types of people who did off and off-off Broadway but still had a place in the Village.
“When a script credit is worth less than $30k and a writer can work for a season on base and just get one script, it’s not paying a living wage in LA.”
Open up the system to freelance writers.
If staff writers are producing only one script a year, they’re doing monkey work most of the time. The number of words in a one-hour script is not that great. Shows like “Babylon 5” and “Blake’s Seven” had entire seasons written by one writer. Rod Serling wrote 92 episodes of “Twilight Zone” over the course of five seasons.
Freelancers can spend their time writing instead of fetching some producer’s coffee.
OK. How much more? For whom? Under what circumstances? And for how long? It’s not insurmountable; they will reach a deal. But it’s not going to be easy, And then you’ve got the actors and directors waiting on deck for their labor negotiations. It might be a long summer.
Well, as someone who negotiates complex agreements for a living: easier said than done. One of my deals with one of our major vendors too just over two years to close. I don’t expect the writers strike to last that long, but I could certainly see it lasting a month or more.
And in any event, no one enters into a negotiation with a counterparty planning to give them what they want.
This is one of those things we just can’t control. I don’t stress about it, I just watch reruns.
Lots of books to read, too.
Interesting that production for SNW S3 was already pushed back to summer.
Preproduction wrapped up a couple of weeks ago, the markers for the original May start date were quietly dropped. Makes sense for the actors to defer relocations until production can go forward in a block.
Didn’t know that. If the writers strike drags on anywhere near the length of the 1988 strike, they may not be able to gear up until the fall, maybe later. I don’t have any particular insight into this sort of thing, but I kind of doubt that they have every script for the season ready to go.
I think SNW3 was pushed back when it was made clear that there were going to be cut backs from the studios on content creation. Trek leadership suddenly realized that they were going to have to stretch things out between SNW, LD, Prodigy and DISC’s finale – possibly for the next 2 years. There’s no Picard to throw in there, and my guess is they had hoped to start production on another show to take PIC’s place that would have been ready earlier than what we are looking at with Starfleet Academy. I’m not saying the strike didn’t figure into all this, but I think it’s much bigger than that.
Given Paramount Global’s terrible earnings report, some ST content may very well be affected. CFO Naveen Chopra said:
“It’s prudent for all companies to maximize their balance sheet for flexibility,” said Chopra. “I would emphasize that the reduction of the dividend does not mean that we intend to spend more than previously planned on streaming.” It’s about conserving cash “and deleveraging our balance sheet, which is smart thing to do in an uncertain environment. And to create long term shareholder value.”
Yeah, Paramount Global got bludgeoned today. It wasn’t that long ago that Bob. Bakish could make the rounds talking up profitablity in 2024 and everyone was ‘hey, that’s great! ‘. Not so much anymore.
If there was any talk behind the scenes of a Picard (Legacy) spinoff, the strike likely has snuffed that out. I’d not be surprised if the mandate comes down for existing show to hold the line on tighter budgets. It’ll be an interesting next few months, particularly so if the actors and directors strike, too.
Yeah. It’ll be interesting to see how this affects SNW going forward. If the writers strike goes on for any length of time, production on SNW season 3 gets seriously delated. Same for the Section 31 movie. Could be a really lean 2024-5 for ST. Really lean.
And if the directors and actors also stage a walkout…oh my.
I have a feeling they pushed it back because of the possible DGA and SAG strikes (their contracts are both up June 30.) Shutting production down and starting it up again is more expensive than a delay.
Apparently it’s completely off the schedule now.
While Lower Decks is made under the Animation Guild, Mike McMahan’s other show (Solar Opposites) *is* covered by the WGA.
Seriously studios, pay the writers.
Edit: I was wrong
It’s a myth that the strike had anything to do with “Shades of Gray,” which was made more than eight months after the strike ended. Clip shows have been a routine part of series television for generations, while writers’ strikes are rare events, so it makes no sense to think a strike would lead to a clip show. Clip shows are done for the sole purpose of saving time and money. As director Rob Bowman explained, “It was Paramount saying, ‘We gave you more money for “Elementary, Dear Data” and the Borg show. Now do us a favor and give us a three-day show.’ So that’s what you do. It’s an accepted part of the medium.” https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Shades_of_Gray_(episode)
But is the strike why the season had 22 episodes and not 26?
Yeah, the words ‘strike-shortened season’ are pretty much synonymous with TNG s2.
And occasionally, professional sports.
This is a great opportunity for Paramount to remake all of the original Star Trek episodes exactly as scripted in the 1960’s.
See my comment about. Such a blatant union busting move would not be received well.
Not sure why they would want to. I’m a big fan of TOS and I personally don’t see a value in that.
Since that would be a ridiculous thing to do, I’m glad that’s not in the cards.
Actually, during the 1988 strike, Paramount was going to do exactly that – with Mission: Impossible. The original plan was to do a 13 week season using old scripts and a new cast (made in Australia to get around unions). Ultimately, the strike was resolved during preproduction, but they made the show anyway with mostly original scripts and original lead Peter Graves. It ran for two seasons.
It would be a bit more problematic with an effects heavy production. I’m assuming this duplicate shoot wouldn’t be a literal recreation of the 60’s show.
And do we really need to recreate Spock’s Brain?
I don’t think it would, but I’m not sure. When Paramount and ABC were remaking Mission, they selected 13 episodes that were not very “1960’s cold war” and could pretty much just be reshot. Shooting in Australia meant they could use local talent to do some of the writing, though the original writers would have to get credit for and remade episodes. At least one of the original writers refused to allow his name to be used on any remake of his scripts due to the union-busting nature of the whole affair. Ultimately the writers strike ended, and they only remade four episodes.
I suppose if you’re just grabbing thirteen episodes of TOS, if you grab location shot episodes and kept the FX to a minimum (FX tends to be a crutch on Trek and SF these days, but that’s a different conversation) it might work.
Not likely to happen, but what would those thirteen be?
the 80’s series, which starred Phil Morris (son of Greg Morris from the original MI series), who [Phil] was one of the kids in Miri, and asked for a celebration at the beginning of STIII
Yep. The Mission stage adjacent to the Star Trek stage and Greg Morris, for one, used to visit the ST set from time-to-time.
As far as I’m concerned, the writing is the MOST important thing about a production. Expensive special effects can’t save a bad script, but a great script needs very little. I’ve seen Shakespeare performed on stages with very rudimentary sets and costumes, and the plays still sing, because the SCRIPTS are great.
If you have to cut costs, cut back on special effects, but pay the writers.
Totally agree with you. Without a proper script, all you have is a good looking mess. I’ll hold back on recent examples.
“All you have is a good-looking mess” is such a great way to put it!
A very expensive good/looking mess at that.
Absolutely true. But make sure you pay the RIGHT writers.
Who determines who the “right” writers are?
My guess would be the right people?
From what I’m hearing, no one is expecting this to be over soon.
Legacy is a non starter at this point. Trek XIV is likely dead. STA and S31 will get the TBA treatment. Wouldn’t be surprised is this ends up being SNW’s last season now. Stay tuned…
Hope SNW goes forward. There’s value in carrying on post-strike with something so far advanced in preproduction, especially when it’s already proven.
I agree that Starfleet Academy is at risk.
All the moreso any things currently in development or discussion (a Janeway vehicle, more 25th century Matalas stuff).
The S31 movie will likely go forward on prestige and studio relationship with Yeoh.
What will be interesting is to see if we get whatever animated extra Aaron Waltke has been hinting about.
The animation writers settled a year ago and are in a good position to get more shows greenlit now. Even without a strike, industry commentators have noted that the animation market is underserved. Paramount is especially light on animated digital originals to date, and it’s a market that attracts and holds younger adults.
A Legacy announcement was likely delayed due to (what was) a looming strike which actually places it in a safe space. it can wait.
SNW will be delayed, not cancelled. It’s one of the top performers on P+.
As for STA and S31, yeah, this places both in a precarious position.
I don’t think it’s realistic to think any Legacy announcement was imminent anyway Denny C.
A writers room hasn’t been set up, so there’s no hints that anything is ‘in development.’
That said, there’s no way Paramount would have cleared Kurtzman to set up a mini room to start to develop the proposal and a pilot with the strike coming. So, it may be that could have gone ahead in other circumstances.
The decision has already been made but a couple of factors were working against an announcement: a looming strike and an earnings report which was as bad as feared. In a nutshell, there was no rush with everything going on.
A Legacy announcement wasn’t delayed since the show wasn’t something agreed upon.
I’m thinking any Picard spinoff is completely off the table at this point.
I won’t shed any tears over Academy or S31 but I hope you are wrong about SNW.
These things work themselves out. There’s a big impasse between the two sides (AMPTB can’t even agree that AI shouldn’t be used to write or rewrite scripts covered by the union), but it’s more realistic to consider this a lengthy pause for something as important to the studio as Star Trek.
AMPTB was bordering on not bargaining in good faith. For many proposals, even nonmonetary ones, they repeatedly rejected without making counter proposals.
Yes, and they shut down negotiations early on the last day. I have no doubt this strike will be as long as the last one.
Why do Trek fans always decide the sky is falling? Gheez.
Paramount Global’s share beat down on the stock market today may be the sky falling.
The falling ad revenue was the real surprise.
Linear viewership is down across the board, and ad-supported streaming hasn’t picked up enough to compensate. If Paramount Global, with PlutoTV as a global leader and Paramount+ having had an ad-supported tier earlier than other streamers, it doesn’t seem like advertisers are going to be the saviours for any of the content producers.
That thud you heard was Paramount Global announcing 24% layoffs….
Give writers what they deserve!
I know this will be a very unpopular opinion but I really don’t like those unions…at all…especially when it comes to people who definitely already earn a lot more than me.
I guess I could live on the tenth of what they currently earn and yeah, I would work for that tenth becuase writing for genre stuff like Trek should be FUN and not about the money at all.
I don’t know why people are so concerned with wages. I just couldn’t care less about money, I just don’t… Basic needs, yeah, but beyond that… not interested. And I guess you can buy your daily bread for the rest of your life after one movie script. Well, if you need a mansion, and two cars, and a holiday every year… that’s a different beast, but I don’t. I don’t have a mansion, a car or holidays. I just don’t care about any of that…
But then, I’m different.
Are TV writers all living in mansions? I’m sure some writers are very successful, but I can’t imagine that they’re all rich.
A writer friend of mine lives in a 1 bedroom studio with his fiance and that was after 5 seasons on a show (which was just cancelled). So, yeah, no mansion for him.
Whereas John Logan does live in a mansion — and yet based on his output, should be living in a doghouse, or an outhouse.
Once he won the Oscar for Gladiator he was good to go.
A job where he really only did a dialog polish for the Emperor, everything else was discarded and done by other people. And with AVIATOR, even though he is credited, his last work on the script was something like 7 years before the film got made, and probably only represents his position as first one on the thing. The only decent project I associate with him is RKO 281, which is essentially just a copy&paste job from an existing documentary, spiced with anecdotal BS. He did more damage to the Bond franchise with SKYFALL than I can even begin to get into here. Somebody once said BATS is probably his most honest credit.
Unions aren’t just about wages though. I know in this case this strike is about money but that’s not all that they’re about. Also maybe people should be paid a decent amount for their work, regardless of what they may or may not make already. The rich getting richer is what the issue is here, it’s not the writers you should be questioning.
There are significant issues that aren’t monetary.
e.g., Studios pay in instalments and are holding back final instalment payments not only until scripts are produced, but until the full season has run. This creates great financial uncertainty for the writers and can also lead to writers basically working for free for numerous rewrites.
The average salary for a television writer is about $65,000 a year. Most are under the impression that writer’s earn fat checks but that’s pretty far removed from the truth. Like any industry, some can make significantly more but that’s an elite few. If your show gets cancelled, that’s it and unlike a layoff there’s no severance, you’re just out of work.
When it comes to writer’s, there’s a high churn rate in this industry.
I thought ignorance was bliss. This comment doesn’t seem very happy.
So, you’re grousing because you choose (assuming it’s a choice), to live modestly, therefore everyone should? And you rationalize it with the mistaken assumption that all writers live in mansions and own yachts?
Like athletes, the working shelf life of someone in the entertainment industry is fairly short. Yet the owners of their creative output will continue to make money off of that output forever. It’s not going to kill the studio’s to be a bit more equitable sharing the wealth. The only power the writers (and in June, actors and directors) have is collective bargaining.
Maybe you should unionize.
In California even condos can cost a million dollars. Money is important whether you care about it or not.
The cost of living in LA, NY, Vancouver and Atlanta is very high. $65k a year doesn’t go very far in those areas.
Exactly. I’m in the SF Bay Area and prices here are out of control.
Yeah, I’d say that’s unusual.
Just last month I paid double Scale for some background talent just because the Union base rate was a pittance. Production happens in big cities, and big cities are expensive. If you are on the low end of the scale in a Union you need to be working all the time to get by and to even have any health care. Talk about needing a holiday…
And not everyone who writes for TV is a millionaire. A majority of people are just scraping by. On top of that, this is is big business we are talking about here and the studios will never willingly pay the people who line their pockets their fair share unless forced to do so. Just look at Paramount: they famously tried to argue they lost money on Forrest Gump, which grossed $678 million in 1994.
A lot of people tend to assume just because a job involves making entertainment or there’s a creative aspect, then the people who bring that to life should be happy to do more for less. It’s still a job, people still need to make money from their livelihoods, and in the case of film and TV, that hard work is the foundation of a multi-billion dollar industry, one which is grappling with new technologies and distribution where the rules for compensation need to be ironed out now, or they’ll just pull another Forrest Gump.
That was a tone-deaf response, Garth Lorca. TV writers are most definitely NOT living in a mansion. That’s ridiculous. These are highly underpaid people. On most TV sets, they’re among the lowest-paid and most poorly paid people. You simply have no idea what you’re talking about.
You’re not different, I would say you are under- and mis-informed.
Writing for television being “fun” is, to be gracious, a naive way to look at it. The producers have a limited number of hours and dollars to produce a script, they want to pay as little as possible (so no overtime), even so, scripts go through multiple revisions (hopefully paid – often not) by multiple different people (sometimes just to get that extra writer credit), it often ends up completely different than the writers’ initial vision.
It isn’t some divine work of creative flowering, TV writing is a department, a machine to produce a product for a certain price that can be sold for a profit. (At least, under capitalism.)
Now that’s not to say that writing for a show can’t be fun and everyone gets along. But more often than not, it can be a pressure-laden, toxic environment.
That is why the WGA and other unions exist – to make sure that people get paid for their work and time, and to ensure they don’t have to work under bad conditions.
That nails it. Also, as a writer, you receive nothing on the backend.
Yup, unless you’re so in-demand you can get that kind of deal, and that’s vanishingly rare.
Nail on the head right there, thank you!
Very well put! 👍 Thank you for enlightening the (seemingly wilfully) ignorant! 🙏
Who should get the money?
especially when it comes to people who definitely already earn a lot more than
Assuming facts not in evidence.
The last strike I remember is the one during the production of the latter half of Ron Moore’s Battlestar Galatica. The entire 4th season got screwed up for it IIRC. I am NOT blaming the WGA but I really hope this is resolved soon because the consequences of these strikes last forever on film. I wish hollywood could be less corporate and just respect it’s work force. Well, I wish that everywhere but alas….
What’s more important – a show not getting “screwed up” or a writer making a livable wage?
reread my post
What bigger issues does the next movie have than a WGA strike? Apart from the obvious ones,lol.
Actors and directors contracts expire in June. If the studios don’t work something out with everyone, the entire industry shuts down.
When it rains,it pours. lol
Hope this gets resolved soon, I remember how the last writers strike screwed shows like Heroes and a a couple of seasons of Battlestar Galactica.
I recall reading how “The Shield” creator Shawn Ryan lamenting the fact that “The Shield” was filming it’s final episode and he couldn’t be on-set because he was a writer. I still feel incredibly sad that this was the case for him.
LDS may have an advantage because as a long as they have a rough story outline in in the can for each ep the actors doing the voiceovers could probably adlib the comical dialogue without scripts to complete each ep and nobody would likely notice the difference. Heck, it might even be more organic and better comedy that way .
The article said the LDS writers are part of a different union anyway, so they shouldn’t be affected.
Only a slight one. If actors and directors strike in a couple of months, animation shuts down, too.
Indeed, though animation also has long lead times, and stuff that we won’t see for a while was recorded a long time ago.
As an improviser and a writer, I’m going to say that yeah, you can use improv to come up with bits that get fleshed out into scripts (i.e. the Second City approach), but any good comedy, animated or not, is tightly plotted and edited. There are comic beats set up earlier in the show that pay off towards the end.
Really, really good improv (see: TJ and Dave) can *look* scripted. But most improv isn’t.
It’s also really difficult to use improv as a way to budget the show production. That’s why, even in animation, scripts need to be seen first and broken down by production cost – more complicated segments with multiple characters take longer to storyboard and animate, every new piece of background art costs money, every set of corrections when animators go off-model costs money.
That’s why TV shows love “bottle episodes” where few to no new sets, locations, costumes, or visual effects are needed, and you can use banked VFX shots as needed.
Even if they went this route, the improvisers would be de facto credited as writers. And I doubt that SAG-AFTRA wants to be seen as clashing with their colleagues in the WGA. It would create far too much bad blood for however time / money it would save.
I wonder if they have any of Melllvar’s old fanfic scripts lying around that they could use.
I think we still have a few centuries before he writes those.
Star Trek reality shows would work.
Really? Survivor: Star Trek Edition….
A reality show based on Conventions might be fun?
Aren’t there a few million convention YouTube videos out there now?
Housewives of the Federation
The Doctor: Pimple Popper.
Please state the nature of the dermatology emergency….
Very interesting article; thanks for diving into the matter, and discussing the strike’s possible impact on the industry!
(And, pssst: “Aaron Waltke showed his solitary with WGA” should probably read “Aaron Waltke showed his solidarity with WGA” 🤫)
Great write up. Worth adding too that David A Goodman is one of the key negotiators for the WGA
Just re-make Shades of Grey for an SNW episode if they are striking….
I’m really upset about waiting longer for a Star Trek Legacy show due to the strike. Paramount should have had the show already green-lit and in production. Too many years in between the end of Picard and start of Legacy could hamper any momentum. Also, we would miss too much cool stuff about the characters in between.
Well, here’s hoping they hammer out the details, give the writers what they want (and actors and directors), and get Legacy started sooner than later.
It’s been one week since the end of Picard, not “many years.” And writers’ strikes seem to last between one-third and half a year historically.
AFAIK, a “Legacy” show isn’t in active development right now. And, like all streamers, Paramount has to cut costs. The days of throwing sacks of money at streaming series is pretty much over.
SNW was still a breakout new show, with great fan momentum premiering three entire years after Discovery season two.
“Pencils down for Starfleet Academy”
Oh no! Anyway…
I will continue to check on updates with Trekmovie. It’s a relief the writers/ reporters of Trekmovie are still working to give Trek fans the news they need…updates on programming, merchandise, and blu ray re!eases. Thank you.
“resulting in a shortened season and the often panned ‘Shades of Grey’ season 2 finale being more of a clip show than a real episode”
That is incorrect. The 1980s strike had nothing to do with that episode being made.
Then who CAN we blame for it?
Budget pattern for season, which was probably blown by the Holmes episode and maybe Q WHO and TIME SQUARED.
Curious to know if this will impact The Ready Room after show. Have episodes for the SNW episodes already been filmed?
Wil Wheaton posted a photo on Instagram a couple of days ago on the Ready Room set with the caption “workin,” so I guess some SNW after-shows are in the can? I honestly don’t know if The Ready Room is covered by the WGA or not.
I guess you could consider the Ready Room a talk show but not like the late night shows where you have scripted monologues and such I would imagine. I’m sure some of the beginning stuff where Wheaton is speaking to the camera is but they can adjust that I imagine? And the rest with the cast guests would be adlib?
All the BTS segments are definitely scripted.
One would hope that all the SNW featurettes were shot well ahead of strike date.
Thanks Tachyon Anomaly. I greatly appreciate the info.
I’m curious to hear about what effect this might have on production of The Ready Room.
Just ChatGPT it
Which according to this is possible, unfortunately: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/business/business-news/writers-strike-ai-chatgpt-1235478681/
Yep, writers will simply be replaced by AI.
Has anybody started chanting, ‘AI will not replace us’ yet? I have a terrible feeling this is going to have more impact on journalism than screenwriting, esp since a lot of what passes for journalism is just PR approved fluff.
AI is probably going to be really hot when it comes to assassination via drone. AI won’t suffer human fallibility like the trigger finger going number after a couple of dozen hits. Taste that armageddon, if you like.
as long as nobody asks the ChatGPT to ‘create an adversary capable of defeating Data’ we should be fine
I know this is off topic, but OMG, the Dune Part II trailer looks freaking stunning!
ChapGPT is not on strike — and is ready to fill the gap! :-)) Lol
I wonder if the writers are discussing how AI chatbots are going to shape their work in the future and whatever protections they need to prevent being digitized out of existence?
I just asked ChatGPT to write the first act of a new ST show. Very interesting.
It gave you ‘A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away’… right?
I told it to write a script about an S31 agent fighting the Orion Syndicate. This is my favorite part
The agent pulls out another device, this one projecting a holographic image of the bartender’s family, their faces twisted in fear.
I have ways of getting what I want. Don’t make me use them.
The bartender reluctantly relents and provides the agent with the code.
Yes, it’s a key sticking point in the negotiations.
How paradoxical that in movies and television series unionists are always presented as mobsters.
As of this morning, per Deadline:
Just days into the work stoppage, major TV studios have started sending out letters to writer/producers under overall agreements, telling them that their deals are being suspended.
Of course, the point of this is to avoid paying writer/producers during the strike, although some studios are continuing to pay certain people, like, for instance, writer/producers with series currently in production.
Nobody is terminating anything just yet, although as is typical of lawyers. the studios are letting producers know that every option is on the table:
All letters end with similar language about the Producer reserving all rights and remedies/not waiving any rights “as a matter of law or equity”/”at law or in equity.” The one from CBS Studios specifies those reserved rights, “including, without limitation, all rights with respect to termination of the Agreement.”
Of course, “rights with respect to termination” vary and depend very much on the terms and conditions of each specific contract.
Today, an announcement of broad layoffs at Paramount. In the announcement, which listed programming successes, no mention of Trek.
“No new writing” is being done because of the strike?
Was new writing being done before? The last episode of “Strange New Worlds” I saw was just a (vastly inferior) remake of a TOS episode, “Balance of Terror.”
The original series had a solid base of episodes written by major science-fiction authors such as Harlan Ellison, Robert Bloch, Theodore Sturgeon, and Larry Niven. The newer series are written entirely by Hollywood writers. The “creative typists,” as Harlan called them.
The same type of writers took Asimov’s Foundation and turned it into Star Wars Lite,
I find it hard to sympathize with either side in this strike.