Reese Witherspoon Says It’s ‘Probably Good’ Less Film, TV Gets Made Post-Strike as Studios Contract: ‘It Was Chaos’

The “Morning Show” star and EP later added at a PaleyFest panel Friday that Hollywood should “lean in” to AI since “it’s here to stay”

Reese Witherspoon at PaleyFest L.A. (Credit: Taylor Hill/Getty Images)
Reese Witherspoon at PaleyFest L.A. (Credit: Taylor Hill/Getty Images)

During a “Morning Show” panel at PaleyFest L.A. on Friday, Reese Witherspoon said it’s “probably good” that studios will produce fewer television shows following the dual SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes.

“Post-strike, what I’m seeing right now, I think from the buying and selling landscape side of it, is that part of the strike was a reset for these studios that are not profitable, the streaming services, and an opportunity for them to resize, rework and cut costs,” Witherspoon, a media entrepreneur in her own right as cofounder of Hello Sunshine, explained. “So we’re going to probably see less stuff — which is probably good, right? It was chaos. It was a flea market. We can slow down a little bit. But there’s going to be a more intention around it, and it’s going to be a little bit harder.”

Witherspoon was speaking as part of a “Morning Show” panel moderated by Kara Swisher when she was asked about the state of media today. She began by saying that the landscape is “shifting rapidly” and that “being able to be precognitive about what audiences are doing and watching and where is a full-time, nonstop job.”

“You are competing for eyeballs, social media constantly, YouTube, all of it. I think young people are consuming much more media on socials than they are traditional — they’re not going to movie theaters anymore. My kids don’t go to movies anymore.”

She added that streaming dominated media for years, but things are shifting again. “Streaming was, like, the biggest thing for three, four years and then it was just this never-ending, constant content. Literally you could sell anything. And now it’s not.”

Sitting beside her costar and co-EP Jennifer Aniston, who agreed that content streams could manage to “slow down,” Witherspoon then reflected on how the star-making power of a hit project has also changed in Hollywood today.

“I really worry and wonder about what is the world for artists? I mean, are careers like ours possible ever again? Are there opportunities for people to really emerge as a star having no data transparency? How do we even know if something did well or didn’t do well?”

While the actress credited Netflix with offering some transparency in terms of how a movie or show performs, Witherspoon added, “They know and they talk about it. But other people don’t. And it’s tough as an actor how you negotiate. As a producer, how do you market? If you don’t know where you sit in a landscape, how do you value something?”

“You depend independent sources,” she continued. “You do have some analytic companies — Parrot, Nielsen — trying to do more in understanding who’s watching what on streaming. But there are real amounts of data, too. They’ve just got a lock on it.”

The lengthy conversation, which also included “Morning Show” costars Mark Duplass, Karen Pittman, Nicole Beharie, Tig Notaro and Nestor Carbonell with showrunner Charlotte Stoudt and EPs Michael Ellenberg and Mimi Leder, capped with a question about another major part of the strike negotiations: the use of artificial intelligence.

Witherspoon said that, in her opinion, AI should be embraced. “I think AI is not going to come to your job — people who know how to use AI are coming for your job. So learn about it.”

She continued, “It should be a tool upon which we layer our own creativity, our own humanity and our own ethics … And I would say it’s important for women and people of color and people who are othered sometimes in those developmental spaces, they really need to get in there because we need to have our consciousness represented … Let’s not be scared of it. Let’s dive in. Let’s lean in.”


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