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Will showrunners cross the picket line?

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Hollywood Insider has learned that a significant number of showrunners i.e. the writer-producers who are responsible for many of the series in primetime today quietly met on Saturday, Nov. 3 for what one participant described as a “spirited” discussion about the impending strike. At issue: whether hyphenates such as themselves should respect WGA wishes to honor picket lines and stay away from their sets. But doing so places a particularly large burden on showrunners from struggling first-year shows. Save early hits like ABC’s Private Practice and CBS’ Big Bang Theory (both of which have already received full-season pickups) many of the freshman series in primetime today Cane and Big Shots, to name a few are already in danger of cancellation and can’t afford any kind of production delay or work stoppage.

Showrunners like the one Hollywood Insider spoke to about the

meeting also realize the guild can’t discipline a hyphenate for

performing non-writing producer duties like cutting episodes for time

and making changes in stage directions (the lettered bullet points in

showrunners’ contracts known

in Hollywood as “A through H” services). And the pressure to continue

working is everywhere in Hollywood: ABC Studios, in particular,

distributed a memo Oct. 30 to writer-producers saying “you must perform

your showrunner and/or producer services pursuant to your … agreement

with the studio” and reminding them that “showrunners have specifically

protected status under federal law, which prevents the WGA from

disciplining you from performing non-writing producing services… even

during a WGA strike.”

Yet according to the participant, many of the attendees at

Saturday’s showrunner meeting planned to honor the picket lines,

particularly since it would send a bad message to Teamsters (the men

and women who drive the production trucks and work as location scouts

who have vowed to honor the strike) if they continue working in some

capacity.

There is still a chance a strike could be avoided or at least postponed if today’s 11th hour negotiation session that was by the federal mediator proves fruitful.

Showrunners like the one Hollywood Insider spoke to about themeeting also realize the guild can’t discipline a hyphenate forperforming non-writing producer duties like cutting episodes for timeand making changes in stage directions (the lettered bullet points inshowrunners’ contracts knownin Hollywood as “A through H” services). And the pressure to continueworking is everywhere in Hollywood: ABC Studios, in particular,distributed a memo Oct. 30 to writer-producers saying “you must performyour showrunner and/or producer services pursuant to your … agreementwith the studio” and reminding them that “showrunners have specificallyprotected status under federal law, which prevents the WGA fromdisciplining you from performing non-writing producing services… evenduring a WGA strike.”

Yet according to the participant, many of the attendees atSaturday’s showrunner meeting planned to honor the picket lines,particularly since it would send a bad message to Teamsters (the menand women who drive the production trucks and work as location scoutswho have vowed to honor the strike) if they continue working in somecapacity.

There is still a chance a strike could be avoided or at least postponed if today’s 11th hour negotiation session that was by the federal mediator proves fruitful.