A day after SAG-AFTRA canceled all in-person meetings to protect from the coronavirus, the Writers Guild of America is taking similar precautions as it has canceled meetings between showrunners, screenwriters and the guild’s negotiation committee in preparation for upcoming Minimum Basic Agreement talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).
“In lieu of face-to-face meetings, the negotiating committee will share information about the upcoming negotiations via email over the next two weeks,” the guild told members in a memo sent Tuesday. “The WGA and the AMPTP are scheduled to begin bargaining on March 23, 2020.”
The two planned meetings for showrunners and screenwriters were scheduled to take place on March 12 and 13 at the Hollywood Palladium, and the cancelations come as the WGA prepares for crucial talks over writer compensation and residuals for films and TV shows produced for streaming services. The talks could also draw the AMPTP and its member studios into WGA’s ongoing battle with talent agencies over packaging fees, as guild members approved a Pattern of Demands that requires studios to “negotiate only with agencies franchised by the WGA,” a requirement that would exclude major agencies like CAA and UTA that have not signed an agreement to phase out packaging fees in exchange for permission to represent WGA members.
Yet these critical talks will continue even as Hollywood takes measures to protect from the spreading coronavirus, which has over 700 reported cases in the U.S. Yesterday, SAG-AFTRA canceled all in-person meetings and events and encouraged its members and local chapters to also cancel all non-essential travel and events and in-person guild business meetings. The actors’ guild is scheduled to begin its negotiations with AMPTP later this year.