President Joe Biden said he hopes writers are given a “fair deal as soon as possible” as their strike enters its second week, forcing popular films and shows to delay production.
Biden on Monday made his first public comments on the walkout as he hosted a White House screening of the coming Disney+ streaming series American Born Chinese to mark Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
“Nights like these are a reminder of the power of stories and the importance of treating storytellers with dignity, respect and the value they deserve,” Biden said.
The Writers Guild of America (WGA), the union representing thousands of TV and film writers, announced a week ago that it was due to go on strike after negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) broke down, and picket lines started on Tuesday.
As a result, TV shows that rely on writers to create content on the day of airing, such as late-night talk shows, were forced off the air immediately. Prerecorded and scripted television shows shot before the strike were able to continue as normal.
But not even a week since the writers walked out, studios have already pushed pause on development of highly anticipated content, including Netflix’s Stranger Things, Disney and Marvel’s Blade, AppleTV+’s Severance and Paramount’s Evil, CNBC reports.
The writers and AMPTP, which represents entertainment giants such as Disney and Netflix, were feuding over contractual terms, including pay. The studios’ refusal to rule out artificial intelligence replacing human staffers in the future escalated the tension.
Newsweek has reached out via email to representatives for Biden and the WGA.
Biden seemed to offer support and praise for the writers just as studios said the strike is stalling productions.
“I sincerely hope the strike gets resolved, and writers are given a fair deal as soon as possible,” the president said. “This is an iconic, meaningful American industry and we need the writers—and all the workers—to tell the stories of our nation, and the stories of all of us.”
While employees are picketing outside studios in New York and Los Angeles, the WGA and AMPTP have released statements online, each blaming the other for the breakdown in negotiations.
The WGA last week said that after six weeks of talks with Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Disney, Warner Brothers, NBC Universal, Sony and Paramount, all under the umbrella of AMPTP, the Board of Directors of WGA West and the Council of WGA East voted unanimously to call a strike.
The last time the WGA decided to strike, in 2007 and 2008, it lasted 100 days and forced dozens of shows off the air. The Milken Institute, a nonpartisan policy and data research organization, estimated that the strike 15 years ago cost the entertainment industry in California $2.1 billion, resulting in the loss of 37,700 jobs.