Hollywood Writers and Studios to Restart Talks After 3-Month Standoff

The major entertainment studios and thousands of striking writers have agreed to meet to restart talks after a three-month standoff, according to the writers guild.

The union, the Writers Guild of America, told screenwriters in an email Tuesday night that Carol Lombardini, the studio negotiator, asked for “a meeting this Friday to discuss negotiations.”

The guild said it would not comment further. The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the organization that bargains on behalf of the studios, also declined to comment.

The meeting represents the first sign of movement in a stalemate that began in early May after negotiations between the writers and studios fell apart.

Tens of thousands of actors also took to picket lines on July 14, bringing Hollywood its first simultaneous actors-and-writers walkout since 1960.

The stalemate has resulted in a near-complete production shutdown of scripted entertainment in the United States.

Many people in the entertainment business had assumed the studios would attempt to restart negotiations first with SAG-AFTRA, the actors’ union. That guild has historically been more willing to negotiate with the studios, while the writers have taken a much harder line. Members of the writers guild have walked out several times through the decades, most recently in 2008 for 100 days. The actors last went on strike in 1980.

Sharp criticism of studio executives by Fran Drescher, the president of SAG-AFTRA, the actors union, led the studios to see the writers as more likely to return to negotiations.Credit…Brittainy Newman for The New York Times

But that calculus appears to have changed. The SAG-AFTRA president, Fran Drescher, the former star of “The Nanny,” has made broadsides at studio executives, including Disney’s chief executive, Robert A. Iger. Her fiery criticism led some studios executives to believe that the writers might be more hospitable to bargaining.

The writers and actors went on strike after they raised concerns about their compensation levels and working conditions, as streaming content has had an effect on all corners of entertainment. The writers union has called their grievances “existential,” and said they are “fighting for survival,” said Chris Keyser, a chair of the guild negotiating committee, in a video address to members last week.

But in those same remarks, Mr. Keyser offered a self-described “olive branch” to the studios.

“If you are visionaries, envision a solution, not a stalemate,” he said, addressing the studio chiefs. “Because this isn’t a war we’re in — it’s a negotiation. It’s just a negotiation. And when you come to remember that again, we will be here as we have been here all along.”

Mr. Keyser also said that the writers remain unified.

“You cannot outlast us — you cannot,” he said. “And not just because we have the will. Because we have power. Nothing in this business happens until we start to write, and we will not start to write until we are paid.”

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