Star Trek Actors Join Writers On Trek-Themed Picket Lines In LA And NYC

(Twitter/Jennifer Muro)

The WGA strike that began on May 2nd shows no sign of being resolved, and other unions are showing their solidarity. On Friday, this was evident for Star Trek-themed picket lines in both Hollywood and New York City.

Trek day for WGA strike

The WGA West and the WGA East both called for Star Trek writers to picket on Friday at the Paramount in Hollywood and at the Manhattan headquarters of Netflix. Star Trek writers showed up at both locations, joined by actors and others who have worked on the franchise.

Strange New Worlds writer/co-executive producer (and WGA strike captain) Bill Wolkoff shared a group photo from Hollywood. Writers and actors from Star Trek: The Original Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, Discovery, Picard, Strange New Worlds, Lower Decks, and Prodigy can all be seen showing their support.

In New York, Lower Decks voice actress (and Starfleet Academy writer) Tawny Newsome shared photos that included actors Anthony Rapp (Discovery) and Celia Rose Gooding & Jess Bush (Strange New Worlds).

The local news in LA covered the Hollywood event and did a brief interview with Bill Wolkoff about the issues holding up negotiations with the studios.

Actors may strike next

The actors’ guilds contract ends on June 30 and actors are currently voting to authorize the union to strike if negotiations break down. Anthony Rapp (who is on the SAG-AFTRA board) has been encouraging his fellow actors to support the authorization. SAG-AFTRA posted a video of Voyager and Picard actress Jeri Ryan talking about why she is supporting the writers and how this also impacts the writers. The SAG-AFTRA

The strike has already delayed the start of production on season 3 of Strange New Worlds and if it continues (and especially if the writers are joined by SAG-AFTRA and/or the DGA), it could delay Starfleet Academy and the Section 31 TV-movie. Even the animated shows could be impacted if the actors go on strike.

More from the Star Trek picket lines

Prodigy writer/co-EP Aaron Waltke had some sign synergy with DS9 writer Robert Hewitt Wolfe.

TNG actress Denise Crosby met up with Picard showrunner Terry Matalas.

Enterprise actor Anthony Montgomery shared a shot with his co-star John Billingsley, Discovery‘s Mary Chieffo, and designer Mike Okuda.

Prodigy showrunners Dan and Kevin Hageman shared a shot with Lower Decks showrunner Mike McMahan and Strange New Worlds co-showrunner Henry Alonso Myers.

They also ran into Jankom Pog voice actor Jason Mantzoukas.

Prodigy writer Jennifer Muro shared a shot of Kevin Hageman and Jason along with some cool Trek-themed signs.

Writer (and Trekspert) Mark Altman shared shots from the picket line including Enterprise writer Mike Sussman, Voyager/Enterprise showrunner Brannon Braga, Picard showrunner Terry Matalas, and DS9 actress Chase Masterson.

Discovery actor Elias Toufexis shared a brief video from inside the picket line.

Even Tuvix had a role to play in the strike (via writer Brian Michael Scully).

Bill Wolkoff’s sign sums up the day…


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What a smart tactic for picketing.

It’s a win for promoting the WGA job action, but also drawing attention to the nearly 60 years of content that Paramount and Netflix have monetized without full consideration or fair compensation for the creatives and talents that made it.

It also created an irresistibly smart networking opportunity for all the WGA and SGA members who have ever been involved in the franchise.

Not surprised to see connections being made across eras and shows, but to see EPs finally meet voice actors that they’ve worked with but never met in person due to the pandemic is still surprising.

Is it really smart? What is the objective of those Trek-inspired picket signs? No one driving by on the street is going to be able to read that Chief O’Brien or Darmok stuff, so the general public (who the Guild should be trying to sway) are really going to have no idea what they’re picketing for. What they’re demanding. Basically the picketers are just preaching to themselves there.

These people are talented writers and actors, but they don’t seem to be particularly effective protesters.

The profile is right here on this site and others.

Picketing isn’t just about the people who might be driving by, and mostly isn’t.

It is intended to make it challenging for others to cross the pickets to work at those locations and improve solidarity among those on strike. It certainly succeeded in that.

Agreed. It seems like a gimmick to me without a lot of substance.

Lots of picketers are writing clever signs related to the shows and films they’ve written for. Collectively it adds to a whole picture of how every pocket of the guild is fighting for the work they do. It’s for the industry more than it is bystanders though.

It’s an organized strike. The studios know exactly what they’re picketing for and what the unions are demanding — the individual signs are for the picketers/public.

I’m just curious as someone largely ignorant of the process and the politics of the process, but is there a strategic reason SAG-AFTRA and the DGA haven’t consolidated their negotiations with the WGA to create an overarching deal that resolved all issues?

If I were the studios, I would play one against the other. For example, make concessions to the actors on some issues in exchange for agreements that would undercut the writers’ negotiating position on other areas. Any deal maid by one of the unions could potentially set the framework for negotiations with the other two. Why would the three major unions not act as a united front?

I believe you’ve answered your own question.

Unions are always stronger when they are bigger, and these two are so closely aligned it makes perfect sense for them to work together to force the studios to make a better deal for both of them.

Joining forces also makes it harder for the studio to put them against each other.

Unions are a powerful tool for countering big business owners, and it’s been an age old practice for different unions to support each other.

The downside to bigger unions is that the actual voices of the rank and file tend to get lost or ignored.

There’s a lot about this situation that confuses me. Acting and writing are gigs so unless you’re a regular then there’s a very real chance you just won’t be able to live off that work. Booking a guest spot naturally won’t pay the same as being a lead. Likewise a few singular pitches won’t be the same as being on a main writing staff. So I’d be curious to know what figures are being asked for, what’s fair when depending on what you’re doing you’re in an industry that potentially won’t be something that can give you a sum you can cover all expenses for short of asking for unreasonable amounts. And even if you do have a regular job your show could still get cancelled at any minute. What guarantee do you give someone in a field with no guarantees?

If you’re genuinely curious you can google WGA 2023 Pattern of Demands. Since that doesn’t dig into the financials. there’s a chart floating around out there that has a “cost breakdown” of what these demands would’ve cost the studios during their record-breaking $30 billion *in profits* in the course of the last WGA contract — $480 million. Not $480 million extra, just in total for the work done during that span.

The creative fields *are* fields without guarantees, but residuals and minimums were two consistent elements within that uncertainty that could allow *some* members to have careers. The studios are proposing one time payments at significantly lower minimums. Also, people don’t realize this, but when somebody gets paid $50,000 or whatever for one script — and if you’re a veteran you can negotiate for more than the minimum, obviously — how much of that actually goes to the writer? 10% agency fees 5% attorney’s fees, fed taxes, state taxes… and before anyone boo-hoos that, know that studios *regularly* do not disburse these funds — despite work being required to commence — for at least 6-8 months. It’s inherently not a stable job by any means, and the money seems *massive* for writers, but all the caveats or complications with it is part of the precarity.

So, residuals and minimums aren’t there for people to build up wealth, they’re there for people to be able to survive between jobs. And this is an ecosystem that has led to historically high profits that the studios — or, at least, the new media ones — want to disrupt and dismantle. For SAG-AFTRA, the likeness rights for AI acting is also an issue.

That is a lot of variables. Especially in America where you don’t just get your taxes deducted automatically. Isn’t that all partly the reason we got Tom Paris because the writer of the First Duty would have been entitled to royalties for every episode featured Locarno. And that leads to what characters are “owned” by one particular writer versus generally owned by the property rights holder.

So do the pay deals work on a per job basis and then it’s on the writer or actor to get the work? I imagine 8-10 episode seasons on streaming services compared to 22 episodes on TV has complicated things further.

The Tom Paris thing is a separate issue entirely. Residuals are simply the residual value of the completed work — in other words, reruns. Streaming has complicated/redefined/erased the meaning of reruns. Also syndicated resales.

And yeah, the 8-10 seasons vs 22 have made it worse and the 8-10 has a sub-awful component called mini-rooms where the staff sizes are miniscule, people work for fewer weeks to “write” the whole season, don’t get a script fee in a lot of cases, don’t get on set experience to produce their episodes (so how will there be future Tv showrunners, etc without people learning?), and where it used to be that “working writers” maybe had one show or two shows a year, now *these same writers* (to say nothing of new writers starting out, which includes diverse writers) have to scramble to find 3-4 jobs a year just to make ends meet (and in some cases not even to make the same amount of money but far less). It’s hard for anybody to find 3-4 jobs a year regardless of industry.

The Tom Paris character payment, btw, would’ve amounted to about $700 an episode. Good money over the run of the series, and residuals aren’t subject to agent/manager fees, only taxes are, but still, about an additional $18000 pre-tax a year to the writer. Not great even in 90s dollars.

The Tom Paris character payment, btw, would’ve amounted to about $700 an episode. Good money over the run of the series, and residuals aren’t subject to agent/manager fees, only taxes are, but still, about an additional $18000 pre-tax a year to the writer. Not great even in 90s dollars.

That sounds like fantastic annual income for him given his small part in the series, 90’s dollars or not. SIGN ME UP FOR THAT!

Your information is incorrect.

then enlighten us

No, that’s not our responsibility. If you’re going to be critical of a workers movement, it’s your job to get the correct information.

Enlighten yourself. It’s never been easier to supply your deficiency of information.

No way, when someone says your information is incorrect, but doesn’t provide details, of course it’s then fair game to ask that person to elaborate.

Your attacking this person’s logical follow-up is asinine.

They can ask all they want. No one said they can’t ask. But the information is readily available.

Your philosophy of “prove it” is ludicrous.

If someone told you the Earth was flat it’s not your job to prove it’s not.

This isn’t a trial or a congressional hearing. Go get the facts yourself or continue to live in a dream world.

That was one hell of a rant. I’ll give you that. Lol

We, as consumers of Trek could consider paying more for Par+. I would.
I support the WGA strike, I’ll bring my wallet.
I won’t miss an extra $5-$10.00 a month.
It’s easy to say “Pay The Writers!” without bringing our wallets.
I’ve cancelled my Netflix Sub. I let them know why, due to their position against the writers.
I’ve contacted the various producers of Star Trek Memorabilia.
I’ve told them I’m on a “no-buy” to support the WGA.
I’ve reached out to several advertisers for Trek.
I’ve informed them that I’m pausing buying their wares to encourage them to lean on the various networks and streamers to support the WGA.
I’m fortunate to be friends with people who work behind the scenes at Star Trek in various capacities. Supporting the writers supports everybody who works in the film/tv industry.
If I were in California, I’d walk the picket line with them.

dennycranium, I’m not sure where the price point is that would make any of these streamers unaffordable for many.

I could afford more, or rotate my subscriptions more efficiently.

However, even many people who work in the industry can’t afford to subscribe regularly. I see writers and production folks on various boards talking about how they need to wait for a cheque before watching the next season.

What is blindingly obvious though, is like pro sports, entertainment is an industry where a few get to the top and become fabulously wealthy while much of the rest are paid little with high personal risk and few basic benefits.

More, it profoundly advantages those who enter the industry with the ‘bank of mummy and daddy’ to subsidize and mitigate risk until they can achieve a living income.

It’s a broken model that embeds privilege and doesn’t actually deliver better creativity or productivity.

It’s not sustainable.

It’s also completely antithetical to the values of merit and human achievement baked into the franchise.

Privilege is a tough nut to crack, since it tends to perpetuate. In my field (law), you still see certain very elite firms that not only restrict their hiring to the Ivies (not just law school, but undergrad as well), but even then, check to see if a prospective associate (or their parents) is listed in the Social Register. It may not necessarily be a “make or break” aspect of the hiring decision, but it carries a lot of weight in some firms. Antediluvian as all get-out, but there you have it.

Unfortunately you paying more per sub will just enable the studios to reap a higher profit. The last people that would receive your money would be the writers. The studios have the money, they simply do not value the creative people whose work generates that money.

IIRC, they’ve yet to become profitable (STREAMERS)

I don’t think the WGA or any of the guilds are calling for boycotts right now. In a broader sense, gutting revenues only reinforces the AMPTP’s position that “there’s just no money to pay artists anymore.”

Again, the model is broken.

Profitability is a malleable concept when EPs and studio executives make salaries in the tens of millions.

Or when the writers of a $ 8-23 million single episode are paid collectively less than $ 100,000.

The lack of transparency in cost and payments isn’t doing the industry any good overall.

This kind of management accounting and financial management gives those of us with expertise headaches. It’s not surprising that the markets are cynical and punishing share prices when large payouts are plainly going out to a swath of individuals.

Jesus, cry me a freaking river. The streamers are bleeding cash and having to cancel numerous series right now. Get real.

Honestly that’s a terrible suggestion that’ll just reduce the number of subscribers and put these people out of work. The striking risks killing shows again like the last time which resulted in a lot of lost jobs.

The price of a subscription is already a couple of meals and you need to be paying for an ISP as well as the ever climbing cost of electricity on top of that.

People are more likely to protest a price increase with their wallet.

We’ll said — 100% agree!

That’s all well and good, but Trek fans have given Paramount and CBS billions of dollars, much of it to buy umpteen crappy releases and rereleases of Trek on VHS/DVD/Blu-Ray, and indulged them when they used Trek to break into movies/first-run syndication/a new TV network/paywalls streaming. We’ve bought merch, we’ve gone to conventions which they now have a piece of, we’ve endured harmless fan projects getting shut down by lawyers. We are very aware of how much Paramount Global has profited from Trek and its pattern of squirreling away profits.

If you give them more they’ll just hoard it. Unless you’re Steven Spielberg or Tom Cruise, you can’t force them into a deal that’s not heavily lopsided in their favor. They have the right to exploit what they own any way they choose, but if it means wasting money that could have bolstered key creatives down the line, then I don’t have much sympathy when the unions make their stand against them.

Ten of the eleven shows are mentioned, but since the TOS contingent includes David Gerrold (anyone else?), TAS is represented as well. All eleven regular TV series have representation! :D

They should just hire writers from Asia to write the show. Can we also have a Star Trek anime please. I would love to see the Japanese take on Trek.

That’s a brilliant suggestion. Just bust the union.

Why not. It has worked before.

Paying people their fair share and respecting workers have also worked before.

Grow up.

The streamers are currently bleeding cash and cancelling series’ right and left. A grown-up would know this.

Shows get cancelled when they get low ratings. That’s how television works. It’s been like that since the beginning of television. BTW Netflix just invested $2.5 billion on Korean content.

Korean content is a huge hit in the U.S., so yeah, of course they are doing that.

Equating the value of an IP to a financially strained business model is quite the false dichotomy there. Mergers and acquisitions will weed out the financially untenable streamers. Paramount will continue to make money on its IP, regardless of how it’s distributed. Management discovered they could gut compensation to their talent by moving to the streaming model. This strike will correct that problem. It’ll likely also shore up the business model by making these productions more efficient, as opposed to screwing the talent.

Pay Korean writers instead. They make great shows.

It warms my heart to see all the Trek actors and writers unite like this. And people represented from every show is amazing!

Wouldn’t that be a tragedy if Academy and Section 31 gets delayed. Said very few people.

A lot of folks have said that, actually. Current shows have, or will be delayed, in short order. And it’s likely killed the Legacy/Picard spinoff/TNG season 9 (or whatever the hell you want to call it) proposed production entirely.

So there’s that reality. Enjoy.

Delaying production on those projects also means S3 of SNW is delayed. If the studios don’t come to their senses and actually pay the artists their worth, it might be two years between the S2 finale of SNW and the S3 premiere. It also increases the likelihood that any clout/push for Legacy will be completely ignored by the studio. You may not be excited about those two particular upcoming projects, but some are, and while these productions stall it isn’t just the writers and the actors who aren’t working.

I’m actually really excited for Section 31 and pretty skeptical of the Academy show, but I do know that there are some people who are excited for a Starfleet Academy show.
But however we feel about the two projects, if they get delayed, it’s bad news for Trek as a whole — if they get completed and, hopefully, perform well in terms of viewership, it would be good for the future of Trek, studios would be more willing to invest in Trek, and that includes Legacy too.

There is no world in which this isn’t at least risky and likely damaging for Star Trek as a franchise as a whole.

Thank you for for appreciating that.

The TNG/PicardS3/Legacy boosters don’t seem to recognize that there isn’t some kind of magic wand that will jump their preferred product ahead in the queue – especially when Picard S3 demonstrated a market for TNG legacy but not in any way for the show proposed by Matalas in the series finale.

I am excited for the S31 movie, if less sure about the writer who got the greenlighted script.

I am increasingly convinced that Starfleet Academy will be a positive surprise for the skeptics.

It genuinely looks like after numerous false starts, a rotating door of creators and a very weak backdoor pilot in Discovery S3, Kurtzman has out together a super strong team to create and run Starfleet Academy.

Gaia Violo, cocreator and senior writer on the three season thriller Absentia, seems to have been brought in as a creator in 2022 after the weak backdoor pilot episode. (The writers of that are not indicated to have any involvement in the show as greenlit.). Violo wrote the approved pilot.

Next, Noga Landau has been brought as showrunner cocreator. She worked with Henry Alonso Myers on The Magicians (story editor for the entire 3rd season and script credit for a number of episodes).

Landau has most recently been showrunner of Nancy Drew, taking it from a weak start to an audience favourite. CW is exiting scripted series, so that show’s final season is about to run. The cast had a strong ensemble, and they did well enough in Nancy Drew that they are already cast in major roles in linear and streaming series.

The fans pushing for Legacy don’t seem to realize that the show proposed by Matalas would be very different from what they’re pushing for and, without the nostalgia factor and the TNG reunion, the writing would not have held up as well — and the show Matalas was proposing wouldn’t have as much nostalgia as Picard S3, yet it would likely have a similar quality in terms of writing, which isn’t bad, but I do feel like the nostalgia factor made it better than it really is.

I haven’t been following up with the Starfleet Academy writers, but it definitely sounds very promising now. I think it could potentially surprise and draw in older fans, but unlike SNW and Picard, it also seems like it could attract newer, younger viewers too.

I’ve come across a post by Jason Inman, a showrunner’s assistant that assisted on S31, that they’ve been working on S31 for the past four years and, Dominic Keating said on a podcast episode that he heard that S31 was going to be a movie back in April 2022. So it seems like the showrunners and the writers really persisted with the idea to make it work and there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes all along, but it also seems like the script went through many revisions over time — and I think that’s a good sign, especially now that it became a movie.

The more time I have to digest Picard season 3, the more I feel that while I adore it, it may be the weaker of the three seasons. A changeling/Borg team up does sound like it’s right of a fanfic website but the rollercoaster ride was so great I could effortlessly forgive it.dß

I wanted Captain dadd- I mean Shaw leading the show as I wanted Captain dadd- I man Rios before him. I don’t care for the Bajoran (although there’s a story there surely for why he has a human name) or Haliian and Jack is just a terrible character. T’Veen was great.

Shaw, Seven, Raffi, cadet Elnor, ensign La Forge on the Titan is the Legacy show I was excited for. The ending of Picard was a bit of a sour note with bad writing choices.

Academy risks being nothing but teen drama with a genre back drop like superman and Lois and I don’t want Riverdale in space but I do want to continue with the 32nd century. And I’m very excited to see more of Empress Georgiou so I’m really hoping nothing further delays Section 31.

But without retooling, a tiny little retcon or two and someone to say no to Matalas (so he doesn’t get George Lucas style criticisms) I think I can live without Legacy.

Bottom, I suspect that you’re correct that Matalas needs someone to say ‘no’ to him.

My estimate of Matalas’ ability as a showrunner was very high coming into Picard. Now, I have a lot of caveats on that.

12 Monkeys was great, and incredibly well plotted so I expected Matalas would deliver that, finally, to Kurtzman-era a live-action Trek show.

I don’t think I gave enough credit to his co-creator/co-showrunner on 12 Monkeys, Travis Fickett.

Fickett has one Picard S2 partial story-by credit for episode 4 ‘Watcher’, but clearly didn’t stay long in the writers room and was long gone by S3. Given the two had been working together as far back as Nikita, but Matalas had the prior Trek experience, it seems like the power balance between them was undone, and Matalas lost the benefit of a creative partner who could challenge and check his vision.

At this point, I wouldn’t be unhappy if Matalas was picked up by Marvel. I can see him working within the nostalgic constraints of that franchise and benefiting from the oversight of someone with a strong franchise vision like Feige.

I do think there’s a market niche for a 25th century show, I just don’t think what was proposed in the Picard finale is it nor do I think Matalas can be left to run with his vision unchecked.

Honestly I thought I’d be the last person who would say “I don’t want this” to a 25th century show but maybe the strike has a silver lining in allowing time for honest reflection. Hopefully short-sighted hype doesn’t win the day. 50,000 is a great signature turn out but that’s global can that provide the RoI? Picard season 3 performed amazingly well but was that because people liked Jack Crusher or because people wanted to see the TNG cast reunited?

I love Discovery (from Season 2 onwards), Lower Decks, SNW and I loved Picard so unlike the comment that started this thread I’m far from a naysayer or modern show hater but as it stands I just can’t bring myself to want Legacy and I can’t help but wonder if that can happen to me, will the time to reflect on it change the minds of others?

I really do think I would prefer Starfleet Academy, the 32nd century has a lot to offer and I want to see some of those beautiful ships in action more. Show me some beauty shots of the USS Nog, tell me more about the Voyager-J, show me the Enterprise-V or whatever it’ll be by that point.

Just recalled what Fickett’s been up to since he left Picard early in S2 production.

He’s still collaborating with Matalas, but for another franchise – Disney’s Witch Mountain.

They have been co-developing a television series, including a pilot script. The pilot started production in Ontario late last fall.

No word from Disney on whether there is a series order or not.

However as this and any Marvel work would fall under the Disney+ umbrella, this would surely be part of any deal Matalas is finalizing there.

You’re not alone with your observation. P-S3 is great for what it was, but there are some obvious flaws if you look to close. For Legacy to work, one is going to have to pretend P-S3 didn’t happen.

It’s not a position that fills me with any joy whatsoever. I’m very much the opposite of franchise fatigued, in my mind there can never be enough I want at least one show of a franchise I like every single day of the year. To not want a potential new addition to a franchise I like is just…weird.

I honestly wonder if the writing for Picard S3 would have worked if it didn’t bring back the TNG crew or if the same story is applied to the Discovery crew — there were definitely elements that felt very fanfic-y. I personally don’t like the idea of Picard having a son, it felt forced and very out of character for Picard, even more so than the childhood trauma arc in S2. He has always been the most professional, “ideal” captain, but he’s also the most impersonal one — he follow orders, we don’t see much of his personal life, he embodies the ideals of Starfleet through and through.

I do enjoy the new shows, Discovery was my introduction to Star Trek, I never thought that the shows were lacking optimism/hope or that the crew weren’t professional enough. But I do think that the criticism towards the previous Picard seasons and Discovery could very well be applied to Picard S3 — it’s nowhere near traditional Trek, the story is pretty serious and action-packed, and Seven literally ignored Shaw’s order in the first episode.

The Academy show, at worst, it would probably be Riverdale in space. But the idea of a classic teen drama set in the Star Trek universe could be fun, but by that, I don’t mean Riverdale style drama with all these crazy conspiracy and mystery solving, but just a simple episodic teen drama with a bunch of Starfleet cadets could be cute.

I really hope nothing further delays S31 too! I personally loved Georgiou and I can’t wait to see more of her.

Teams, I do suspect with Violo and Landau that we will get some intrigue and mystery.

If Kovich is much of a presence in the Academy he’s reestablished, that also would suggest mystery.

As long as the mystery is a way to reveal and make the Federation and Starfleet principles meaningful to new and younger viewers, then as with Prodigy, the serialization will all be in the service of the franchise.

I can get behind that.

That’s actually the upside to this. If this drags out so long that nu-Trek goes away I consider that a win. Trek won’t be gone forever. Eventually someone, other than Secret Hideout of course, will come in and perhaps make something good.

Said all the fans contradicting you in their responses to your full of BS post here…lol

hollywood, comply. comply!!!!

More and more I’m convinced that TV and video streaming really is a vast wasteland and we would all be much better off without it. Bored at first, but better off.

Said no one.

No no he’s right. You’re absolutely right.

No he isn’t

I watch 0 hours of TV on an average week. I can definitely live without tv or streaming.

I get that we’re all suppose to support this “feel good story” of the writers on strike, but the streaming services and TV networks are bleeding cash and scaling back shows, so what a weird time it is for the writers to ask for higher pay and benefits.

Because they only get to negotiate every decade and a decade ago concessions were given to help the streamers take off.

So, they have been exploited while others are paid richly.

I’m not sure I believe that. The streamers are all bleeding cash and downsizing. Perhaps instead of the writers getting more $$$, the actors and other trades need to make some concessions now to get this all closer to reality. I’m not really buying the timing of this — where are the $$$ to pay the writers more right now?

The seems unrealistic to me. I am siding with the studios for now

There is a major restructuring, but none of it needs to be at the personal risk of the lowest wage/income employees while the top executives, producers and talent as well as dividend preferential shareholders continue to take cash out of the firms in large quantity.

Decks&Necks, companies that are restructuring and entering new markets while still paying high and stable dividends are a good indicator of sub-rational behaviour at the enterprise level.

The same for paying large stable payouts to executives without it being truly a risk-based individual incentive. If these individuals didn’t have significant power, they wouldn’t be able to each individually claim the salaries and stock benefits of hundreds of employees.

The major content producers have been what business strategists call ‘cash cows’ up until very recently.

They were mature industries with a model that basically at the point of low risk, highly stable businesses that were just milking their accumulated capital – in this case content libraries, content generating studios, movie distribution and ad-revenue generating linear channels.

Disney, Paramount/CBS and the other networks and studios were like the cereal companies General Mills and Post in the 1970s, without much significant innovation.

Without the need to reinvest significantly to take innovative risks, they did what they should – liquidated a portion of the firm on an ongoing basis through high dividends.

Now they need the money to rapidly enter streaming as a new business line. They have shifted from low risk steady return industries to high risk ones.

The stock should and will be adjusted for the risk but also higher future returns. Dividends are falling as they should, and different kinds of investors will be attracted that prefer capital gains over dividends.

Absolutely none of this should be done at the expense and risk of the base workers and talent. It’s just that they have less power other than through collective bargaining. This needs to happen.

It’s a fallacy that the streamers are cash cows today. They were propped up by a lot of investment capital during their initial expansions, and also by the one time limited Covid situation which put people at home watching streaming more as a captive audience. — that all resulted in very temporary large profits and artificially inflated stock prices. Well that is all over — that mirage is gone and there is no big money pot — quite the contrary — there is not enough to go around.

It is what it is. This is going to be a long strike and the writers are going to have to take a lot less than what they were hoping for since that cash cow status of the studios no longer exists today.

Netflix is the only streamer that isn’t part of something else.

Apple and Amazon are in the business of being direct to consumer vendors, with their streamers as loss leaders in a package of other services.

Content companies are becoming streamers, but Apple, Amazon and Netflix are only just entering content production on any serious scale.

Those streamers developed their subscription bases by licensing content at a low cost, and the real content producers milked that licence revenue to pay high salaries to executives and liquidating dividends to shortsighted shareholders who didn’t factor in the long terms erosion of the core linear and theatre business.

It wasn’t a workable or sustainable model.

Exactly. Streaming is the TV industry’s future and it’s not just going to be Netflix that profits from it. Hulu is profitable. Max likely gets there next year. Amazon and Apple don’t prioritize profits from their streaming services, so while they’ve been shelling out big bucks (often on cinema talent), they are getting a steal on the writing, much of the time.

There needs to be a more favorable deal to work out how talent is properly involved in productions and how they share in its profits. They kicked the can down the road once for a fledgling industry, there is no way they should let the AMPTP do it again, because they will take advantage of them. The concessions being negotiated amount to what? $500 million? That’s nothing compared to the overall revenue that’s coming in, let alone what’s coming.

Amazon has laid off 19,000 people this year, and is looking to streamline further across at all levels, so it’s only Apple that now views streaming as free of budgetary concerns.

Should every struggling company pay a premium for the unions new contract just because one company (Apple) worth trillions is doing productions that don’t make sense on a balance sheet?

Yes. Because the struggles are not the fault of these unions and can be corrected with a little fiscal discipline outside of paying creatives better.

The reality is that they have to make it work and there are plenty of places to economize and increase revenue that don’t involve giving essential talent sh*tty deals as transformative industry shifts happen with technology and distribution. These companies waste so much money internally on executive salaries, content deals (hello J.J. Abrams) that were dubious in their heyday, and a focus on hiring movie stars and creatives to make TV shows. They’re certainly not doing that work for Scale. There’s room to be more nimble, spend smarter, and still be seen as friendly to creative talent. Hammering out a fair deal with their unions is a good start. Streaming is only going to get more omnipresent.

As Star Trek fans we are intimately familiar with the lengths media giants will go to to maximize profits. I don’t ever want to see Paramount Global go under, but I’m also under no illusions about how they could save money in other places and make better business decisions without having to bilk the WGA/SAG/DGA or their customers in turn.

As ya mans above is fond of saying, “well said.” (And, it’s actually applicable in this case, too!)

Even if we were just talking Paramount alone, it’d still be true, going back to the way they treated creative ‘partners’ in pre-streaming days. They are LONG overdue for a reckoning. Not certain, but wasn’t Paramount the origin point of the ‘rolling break’ regarding net profits? Look at how they kept saying STAR TREK was in the red, even after 15 years of syndication in 150 markets or more worldwide.

On the trek features, they denied TMP was profitable, even after years of reports it generated a gross of 175 mil worldwide — a figure that seem reasonable, given the domestic rentals were in the mid-50s and that a dollar multipiler of 2.5. typical for rental-to-gross ratio, would have put domestic gross at in the 130s, with international take pushing it up another 40 or so.

Then, when Shatner threatened an audit of the books, a miracle happened! Suddenly there was a teensy profit appearing. And all of a sudden, EVERYWHERE, TMP was now being said to have made 139 mil worldwide! I’ve looked high and low but never come across anything indicating where the other 36 mil went, which makes me think it was always in Paramount’s fanny pack. Even when these outfits got caught redhanded, they’d still get away with it to some degree, because nobody ever seems to enforce the notion that doing something wrong means you should be paying out a lot more than you stole — and doing so with an eye toward massive interest being applied, since these things take years to settle. Doesn’t seem to work that way though does it?

If the only reason these kinds of conglomerates continue to function is because they act this way, they don’t deserve to survive. And the modern keeping-up-with-the-jonses approach to streaming has all of these biggies in the same boat, only doing even more gouging and lying about what they have to spend, even while budgets go through the roof with hefty paydays for dozens of producers who aren’t doing writing or Justman-like functions.

Some would say this is the price of doing business Hollywood style. There’s a simpler way of calling the kettle black: it’s criminal. And if the law doesn’t see it as such, then the law is wrong (which might explain why that AXANAR dude isn’t in prison, to say nothing of other higher-profile sue-happy fleecers throughout the country.)

Paramount was famously on the record as trying to weasel out of profit participation deals for Forrest Gino because they insisted it lost money. I think it’s incredibly naive to believe them when they say they don’t have money to pay what is a pretty moderate and overdue concession to the WGA.

There’s a whole WSJ article about the exorbitant deal they made with Taylor Sheridan and what goes into the Yellowstone franchise budgets. Some of the things they pay for are ridiculous. WBD has buyer’s remorse for its deal with Bad Robot. Netflix didn’t renew its deal with Ava DuVernay. Executive pay is exorbitant. And as thrilling as it is to see big movie stars on the small screen, maybe some of the money spent on their salaries should be going to the writers who provide the material that entices them? If they care that much, they’ll follow the material and be open to reduced fees. These are more productive ways to be a hard ass than bullying the unions for raising some minimum standards.

Forrest Gino. That’s a good one.

Things were simpler 15 years ago during the last strike, there were more channels producing more content. A lot of people ended up out of work because shows couldn’t recover but the amount of damage that could be done in a climate of producing less, removal of content and things like the unceremonious implosion of the CW could make it nearly impossible for some people to get back into work. They absolutely deserve fair treatment but this is potentially a lose-lose situation that could leave people worse off than before they went on strike, I mean what good are better wages to the unemployed? It’s all a mess.

They absolutely deserve fair treatment but this is potentially a lose-lose situation that could leave people worse off than before they went on strike, I mean what good are better wages to the unemployed? It’s all a mess.

EXACTLY! If there are 25% less jobs because the costs increase due to this, then that’s great for the 75% who “won,” but there friend in the other 25% are waiting tables at Dennys or working on the loading docks at a freight company.

I will tell you this… A number of years ago a union where I work agreed to furlough all members in return for no layoffs for two years. It worked. Belts were tightened among the workers but no one was let go.

If the writers need higher pay and benefits, they need higher pay and benefits. Whether it’s an ideal time or not to ask for them is immaterial if they’re desperate, unable to pay for rent, unable to get healthcare, etc.

Moreover, it’s not like there’s *no* money kicking around at any of the media giants; it’s just concentrated in few hands. The David Zaslavs and Bob Igers of the industry make way more than the average TV / movie writer.

I don’t disagree with that. I just think it’s going to be a long strike and they’re only gonna get some of what they’re asking for given the economic situation of the studios and streaming services right now.

I’m just kind of amazed at the naïve response from fans to just jump on back of supporting the unions without trying to understand both sides of the issue. It’s almost like there’s an assumption that we fans automatically support the writers’ positions. I don’t take that view. I think they need to come to an agreement that makes sense for both sides, and doesn’t gut the streaming services further — which will result in less overall jobs for writers — so so me. :-)

the writers didn’t cannibalize the revenue streams (home video windows, theatrical windows, ad-supported TV), the short-sighted Line Must Always Go Up failsons running multinationals where the “content” is just a portion of the business did. The studios are making plenty of money and the only reason why there’s a question about profitability is because 1) money stopped being free — a VERY EASILY SEEN ISSUE that the writers had nothing to do with — so the deficit spending to get streaming up and running is now a big problem and 2) shareholders and top executives want infinite growth, and at ridiculous margins.

Taking the side of the people who don’t make anything except money off the labor is certainly a choice. It was always going to be a long strike anyway. Perfectly scheduled so that the writers would have two full months of spinning their wheels before SAG and DGA might join them. I’m guessing at least the WGA part of the impasse will last until after Labor Day and then, as you say, they’ll get a shitty deal and the AMPTP crowd will get off on the timing of that — or they’ll just decide to break the union. I hope that happens for people who hate unions. They’ll be able to focus on the next thing on their list that they’ve always hated.

Taking the side of the people who don’t make anything except money off the labor is certainly a choice.

That’s a limited and frankly a deliberately advocative view of that side. Those are also the people who create the opportunities for the writers, crews, directors, etc, and put their money on the line…and take nearly all the risk.

And they are not making much money on that labor now — and that’s my point — that streaming cash cow from a couple of years ago is no longer there.

And I’m not taking sides. I’m just not buying the fan/media assumption that I must automatically back the writers because they are nice, identifiable people who the fans like. There are many people who work on the support roles at the studios and streaming services who are not fat cats, who have mortgages and kids to pay for…and in today’s environment, quite a number of them have gotten laid off, and many have no union to back them up.

The writers were already being paid less for streaming (that’s what the 2007 strike wrought) so the studios are the ones who priced it into an unsustainable model. Yes, corporate greed hurts a lot of people, intentionally.

I’m sorry I misunderstood the statement  I am siding with the studios for now.

for now” means right now as I am reading all of these advocacy articles on Trek fan web sites, when the narrative has been that all of us fans need to support the writers over the evil studios. I am not buying that narrative, so today, I am supporting the studios given this unreasonable “feel good story” of the poor writers, coming on the heels of significant streaming series’ cancellations, layoffs and losses.

But, all things being equal, I am not taking sides over the long term on this, and I think eventually there will be an agreement, but it’s not going to be close to the what the writers are hoping for — the money is just not there anymore. It sucks for them that their contract was not up 1.5 years ago — then they could have got most of this bac then I think.

It’s weird to see an affirmative defense of the position that it’s a good thing writing for TV and film won’t be a way to earn a living anymore. TV and films aren’t going to stop being profitable, it’ll only become a valueless proposition for the artists. That’s an interesting way to see the world.

It’s an extension of the way writers are treated in general, not just the movie business. There’s a mag I started writing for back in 2000, and I still write for them regularly — close to 200 articles now, most of which were decent-sized production profiles. I’m still getting the same pay rate from them today that I did back then. And that’s very nearly the highest rate I command from any outlet still in business that works with me, though up until a few years ago there were outlets that still existed and paid considerably better.

Now it is apparently true — though it took quite awhile to find this out — that my first editor there was paying me more than he was supposed to, I guess owing to some rep I must have had (was making nearly 40 grand/year as staff writer on a mag, the only decent day job pay I ever had outside of a union position at drugstore chain in the early 80s), but even so, not so much as a 5cent/word or 1cent/word bump in nearly a quarter century?

I don’t complain because I need the gigs and it is pretty regular work, necessary just to make ends meet since my day job income isn’t much more than pretty much just barely-desultory bennies. And I have enjoyed working with each of my three editors there, this current one for nearly 15 years. But I certainly can’t think it is equatable. The idea that folks writing for TV GUIDE nearly 50 years ago were making more than twice what I do now is pretty insulting — and that doesn’t even take into account mags I quit writing for in recent years or rejected writing for because they would only pay half of what I get at my main gig … which frankly makes the time spent writing a less-than-minimum wage situation, and I’d be better off going from my day job straight to a 7-11 for additional income.

A lot of this probably relates to me not having more than high school education, since so much of the hiring world seems to relate more to sheepskin than to the quality and quantity of work produced. But that’s a whole separate sour-grapes issue that I’m too PO’d to get into right now.

That’s an interesting perspective, kmart. Thank you!

I very much enjoyed the last article you shared here. It’s wonderful what you do, and the principled way you do it. Sometimes I feel like the only writers compensated consistently well are copywriters at big ad agencies, and that’s not even always a great use of their talents.

May I ask you a question? Humour me if you will, what are your thoughts on the working conditions of those who can’t strike, part-time service sector employees who are gone if they complain, who work evenings and weekends for your benefit and will only ever earn a fraction of what anyone who strikes will ever make?

Are you talking about below the line staff like PAs and such or just general service sector employees? My thoughts are that workplaces should unionize and, barring that, people ought to have a living wage. I don’t know why my opinion about that matters to you, but this should be fun.

My point is we can bemoan the privileged and call for fairness until the cows come home but your standpoint appears, apologies if I’ve misinterpreted, very Robin Hood. Privileged and well off means different things to different people, as I’ve said fairness for the writers is absolutely a great thing, but you seem to be in attack mode when anyone makes the issue seem more complicated than that. Why I asked you is because from your angle, should I who earns 600-700 a month not consider the writers the over-privileged fat cats always wanting more? I don’t just so we’re clear, but they make more than me doing a frankly much more fun job, if everyone downtrodden is the hero you risk casting a lot more people than you intend as the villain.

What are your thoughts on the working conditions of those who can’t strike, part-time service sector employees who are gone if they complain, who work evenings and weekends for your benefit and will only ever earn a fraction of what anyone who strikes will ever make?

My thoughts: They are royally Fu#@ed.

Great point!

Bottom, it’s only with a better overall unionized framework that protections of part-time and casual employees get protection.

Typically, when the contract frameworks are more robust, casual and part time employees begin to accumulate protection, pensionable time, benefits etc. after a certain number of days and hours in a calendar year.

Unpaid internships under a reasonable union contract are limited to those that are part of specific degree programs, and other internships have minimum pay requirements.

Leaving more of the industry with less protection doesn’t help anyone.

We aren’t talking about a European heavy industrial sector level of unionization that itself becomes a barrier to entry for new or younger workers.

What we’re seeing rather is the kind of system where only the children of the affluent with family money can afford to subsidize the industry with their un/underpaid labour, living in expensive major cities, while they build enough human capital to reach the threshold of being paid enough to live on their income.

I’m not making any kind of criticism of unionisation, I was more just proposing that the slightly hostile atmosphere I was perceiving of “all those with more equals bad” is subject to the far more complicated state of things.

I can’t believe there’s a strain of humanity that would defend the AMPTP. Thanks for educating me. Every villain has a defender.

As far as I’m aware I never defended or attacked anyone and I don’t even know what AMPTP means.

Decks&Necks I’m likely the least naive about business and financial markets on this board.

We’re well into my core expertise here.

Which gives me no reverence at all, or awe when the markets have been making bad decisions and enabling a hollowing out of enterprise value.

Dividend-focused shareholders and executives have been liquidating the value of the major content producers IP and production capacity. There’s been a kind of subrational bubble, and regulatory weakness in the face of changing market structure.

The unions are the only bargaining power for content generators against greed at the executive level. Since the executives haven’t been demonstrating rational business behaviour, it’s in the interest of the entire industry to reset.

Man, I swear this post from TG47 ought to be posted at the top of this thread in boldface and mandatory reading for everybody participating in it. This is CHINATOWN, and if you’re on the side of John Huston, then to hell with y’all.

This is CHINATOWN, and if you’re on the side of John Huston, then to hell with y’all.”

Maybe I’m just a cynic, but I’m worried that there are enough folks here who wouldn’t get this reference.

He’s calling y’all the bad guys, folks (and he’s right.)

Man, have we reached the point where a CHINATOWN reference is going to take the place of the old chestnut about ‘I hear Paul McCartney was in a band before WINGS?’

You seem to be leaning hard into the false dichotomy that the value of an IP is the same as the financial condition of a business model. They aren’t. First, the entertainment industry isn’t going away. Second, mergers and acquisitions will weed out the weak streamer business models. Last, the strike will clear up that different means of distribution can no longer be used at a tool of management to deny fair compensation for someone’s services. There’s nothing weird about this at all. Management had plenty of time to strike a deal, and they didn’t, so the writers struck. Actors and directors will likely be doing the same in four or five weeks.

If current Trek writers were compensated based on the quality of their writing, most of them would be due for drastic pay *cuts*.

Sad to have to admit it aloud, but I agree with you about this.

And the award for most clueless comment goes to ..

This is why I have such a hard time getting behind the writers on this. Their work lately has been mostly terrible. Not just Trek. But across the board. It might be because the producers are demanding less. Who knows what blending of circumstances has led to this? It’s really unfortunate that writing has taken a HUGE back seat to production value. Which tend to be top notch across the board. That seems to be where, after high priced actors, the money is being spent. If anything those artists are the ones who should get better compensated. Not the writers.

Without writers there is no fifth season of Star Trek: Enterprise. Hey, wait a minute.

LOVED the Tanagra sign.