Tony Awards becomes latest show disrupted by Hollywood writer's strike
LOS ANGELES - The committee that oversees the annual Tony Awards is set to meet Monday to consider what to do now that the Writers Guild of America has denied a requested waiver to allow this year's ceremony to be broadcast as scheduled, according to multiple media reports.
During the emergency meeting, committee members will consider whether to hand out the awards during a non-televised dinner or news conference or postpone the show until the writers strike is over, the New York Post reported.
The 2023 Tonys, theater's biggest night, was set to air on CBS and stream on Paramount+ on June 11, but the WGA decision has disrupted those plans.
Ariana DeBose, who hosted last year's ceremony, was set to host again but was expected to do so during a scaled-down ceremony, Deadline.com said.
Meanwhile, picketing continued Friday at Amazon Studios in Culver City, CBS's Studio City lot, Television City, The Walt Disney Co.'s corporate headquarters in Burbank, the Fox Studios lot, Netflix's Hollywood headquarters, Paramount Studios in Hollywood, Sony Studios in Culver City, Universal Studios and Warner Bros. in Burbank.
The last WGA strike lasted from November 2007 until February 2008. Industry experts estimated the 100-day strike cost the local economy between $2- and $3 billion. With both sides appearing to still be at loggerheads, many observers fear the current walkout could last even longer.
The WGA is pushing for improvements on a variety of fronts, notably for higher residual pay for streaming programs that have larger viewership, rather than the existing model that pays a standard rate regardless of a show's success.
The union is also calling for industry standards on the number of writers assigned to each show, increases in foreign streaming residuals and regulations preventing the use of artificial intelligence technology to write or rewrite any literary material.
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The WGA strike, which began May 2, has forced a number of programs to be shutdown, revamped or replaced with reruns. On Sunday, the "MTV Movie & TV Awards" live ceremony was scrubbed in favor of a pre-taped event due to celebrities unwilling to cross WGA picket lines.
On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Times reported that Vice President Kamala Harris had backed out of her planned appearance at an MTV mental health awareness event in Carson on May 18 to avoid conflict with the WGA strike.
Harris was set to appear alongside a surprise celebrity guest and young leaders at a Cal State Dominguez Hills town hall to raise awareness of Mental Health Action Day, according to The Times.
WGA negotiators said no new talks are scheduled with the AMPTP, and none are expected in the coming days.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents Hollywood studios, issued a position paper last week outlining its take on some key negotiating points in the labor impasse. Responding to a union demand for minimum staffing levels and employment guarantees, the alliance said such a move would "require the employment of writers whether they're needed for the creative process or not."
The alliance also pushed back on the issue of streaming residuals, saying the union's most recent contract gave writers a 46% increase in streaming residuals taking effect in 2022 -- increases that some writers may only now be seeing in their paychecks. The alliance contends the union's proposal would represent a 200% increase over current residual rates.
It also called for "a lot more discussion" on the issue of artificial intelligence, and suggested writers "want to be able to use this technology as part of their creative process, without changing how credits are determined."
"The AMPTP member companies remain united in their desire to reach a deal that is mutually beneficial to writers and the health and longevity of the industry, and to avoid hardship to the thousands of employees who depend upon the industry for their livelihoods," said an alliance statement issued when the strike was announced. "The AMPTP is willing to engage in discussions with the WGA in an effort to break this logjam."
Earlier this week, the AMPTP also began labor talks with the Directors Guild of America, which is seeking to address many of the same issues involved in the WGA stalemate. The DGA's contract with AMPTP expires June 30.