ATLANTA — A collective sigh of relief emanated from the Georgia film and TV community Monday morning as news circulated of the Writers Guild of America accepting a deal with producers that could end what has been a painful, acrimonious 146-day strike.
“There is a very close light at the end of the tunnel,” said Atlanta screenwriter Brian Egeston, who wrote the recent Amazon Prime thriller “On a Wing and a Prayer” starring Dennis Quaid. “We are remaining steadfast as we await the details. But leadership has told us the gains we’ve made are significant.”
WGA leadership is likely to clear the deal Tuesday and then put it up for a vote over the next couple of weeks to its membership.
The writers, who began striking in early May, were joined by actors in mid-July. As a result, almost every scripted TV series and movie closed shop in Georgia, leaving only a handful of independent films and reality shows such as Bravo’s “Married to Medicine” and TLC’s “7 Little Johnstons.”
Although only 36 out of 11,000 WGA writers are from Georgia, based on a count at the beginning of the strike, the negative effects of the dual strike has been widespread, impacting the pocketbooks of camera personnel, hairstylists, caterers, set decorators and prop rental facilities, to name a few.
Currently, there are fewer than a dozen active productions in Georgia, including A&E’s longtime docuseries “Hoarders” and Netflix’s reality competition show “The Circle.”
Normally at this time of year, the state has at least 40 active films and TV shows from producers such as Netflix, Disney, Lionsgate and Apple, many with budgets exceeding $100 million. This past year, films and TV shows starring the likes of Jeff Daniels, Adam Driver, Nicole Kidman, Kerry Washington and Chris Evans have been produced in the state.
Instead, planned big-budget films have been placed on temporary ice and TV shows such as ABC drama “Will Trent” and Netflix hits “Stranger Things” and “Cobra Kai” have delayed their planned season production launches.
This has also left nearly all TV and production studios in metro Atlanta empty, including Athena Studios in Athens, which opened earlier this year, and Electric Owl Studios near the Indian Creek MARTA station, which opened its doors in the spring. Three other major studios are set to open before the end of the year: BlueStar Studios in Forest Park, Assembly Atlanta in Doraville and Lionsgate Studios in Douglasville.
The deal with the writers provides them with higher wages and heftier residuals for shows and movies on streaming services. Currently, writers are compensated for repeats of shows on broadcast and cable but see minimal residual payments from places like Netflix and Max.
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