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EXCLUSIVE: The skies are cloudy over LA and still thick over NYC today, but for over 1,000 studio and “struck companies” staffers their Black List membership just went dark.
In support of the Writers Guild of America’s over one-month long strike, the Franklin Leonard founded platform has suspended the access that approximately 1,300 have to its services. In addition, the nearly 20-year-old script curation organization has slashed material fees for writers until their battle with the studios and streamers is resolved with a new deal.
“Writers remain the most undervalued constituents of the film and television ecosystem, and it should be unsurprising that the Black List backs them in their pursuit of equitable pay and protections reflecting their vital and economically significant contributions to the industry,” Leonard told Deadline today. “When writers win, the entire industry wins.”
The move to cut costs for scribes and wall off access for studios allows has the added benefit of allowing writers to stay well within guidelines of not selling, optioning, pitching or taking on new gigs during the strike, which started on May 2 after talks with the AMPTP on a new contract broke down
The Black List decision to support writers in this way during the strike reinforces their longstanding commitment to supporting writers,” noted WGA executive Charles Slocum.
One of the treasure troves of new work and new voices in Hollywood since its 2005 inception, the annual Black List has become essential round-up of the most liked but unproduced screenplays. Made public on December 12, the 2022 Black List consisted of 74 scripts by 80 writers, which were chosen by over 300 film executives. Among the titles selected are films on luminaries such as Dolly Parton, John Madden, Britney Spears, Olympian Michael Phelps, Harry Houdini, bare knuckles GOP strategist Lee Atwater, It’s a Wonderful Life collaborators Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart, the now deceased Jerry Springer, and Britney Spears .
As DGA members vote on the agreement their leadership sealed with the studios on June 4, SAG-AFTRA are three days into their negotiations with the AMPTP on a new contact for actors. Similar to the now picketing and production spotlighting writers, the Fran Dresher-led SAG-AFTRA held a strike authorization vote and received an overwhelming mandate to take action if necessary. The WGA’s last contract with the studios expired at midnight on May 1. The current contracts for the DGA and SAG-AFTRA end on June 30.
It could be a very long summer.