Once the i’s are dotted and the t’s crossed on the Writers Guild of America’s tentative new deal with the AMPTP, the words “Live, from New York!” might symbolically signal the end of the WGA strike, which spanned a near-historic 146 days.
“We have reached a tentative agreement on a new 2023 MBA (Minimum Basic Agreement),” the WGA posted in a message to its members late Sunday night, “which is to say an agreement in principle on all deal points, subject to drafting final contract language.”
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The tentative deal now needs to be “papered,” formally recommended by the WGA negotiating committee to the WGA Board and Council for approval, and then ratified by WGA membership — a process that could take up to two weeks.
Amidst that process, though, the Board and Council could vote to “allow writers to return to work during the ratification vote,” thus expediting the return of long-dormant shows.
Daytime talk shows and late-night programs could be the first to get back to work. Daytime shows such as The Drew Barrymore Show and The Jennifer Hudson Show, both of which abruptly aborted the start of their new seasons amid increased scrutiny by the guilds and picket lines, could be back on-air as soon as early October. Late-night talkers, meanwhile, likely will need a few weeks to get back their sea legs.
Emmy-nominated Saturday Night Live director Liz Patrick, though, has suggested that the long-running, well-oiled sketch comedy series — whose cast members operate under the Network Television Code and thus can perform even with the greater SAG-AFTRA membership still on strike — could be up and running in a jiffy.
“I don’t want to speak as as the voice of SNL,” Patrick told TheWrap, “but I will say, from my perspective of it all … we are the type of show that literally, if we know by Monday or Tuesday — or, hopefully Monday, just to give to the writers Tuesday — we just turn the lights on and we go…. [W]e’ll see what happens, but I think we’re a light switch production.”
As for broadcast-TV’s primetime scripted fare, veteran showrunner Warren Light, for one, recently sketched out a timetable where, if writers agree to a one- versus two-week Christmas break — and SAG-AFTRA closes its own new deal by the end of October — 13-episode TV seasons could be salvaged, with maybe five episodes penned and produced by the new year.
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