CelebritiesEntertainmentTV Shows

HBO drops “The Wire” creator David Simon amid writers’ strike

President Biden calls for “fair deal” for writers as strike continues into second week


David Simon, creator of “The Wire,” “Treme” and other critically acclaimed shows, has been dropped from HBO amid the first TV writers’ strike in 15 years. The award-winning writer said the network suspended his contract while he was picketing with the Writers Guild of America in New York on Monday.

“On the day that HBO called to suspend my deal after 25 years of writing television for them, I was doing the write thing,” Simon tweeted.

In a subsequent post, he noted his suspension was a “strike response and not unexpected.” HBO and other studios have been putting deals on hold since more than 11,000 film and TV writers walked out last week given that any creative work is on ice during the work stoppage.

Simon also exhorted the major Hollywood unions to stick together and transform “this recession-proof, profitable and too-greedy industry,” tweeting approvingly of a 1987 newspaper strike at the Baltimore Sun that participated in. “If I’m not paying dues somewhere, I’m dead or gumming food in a nursing home,” he wrote.

Simon is the latest major Hollywood content creator to voice his support for the striking writers, who walked out a week ago after being unable to reach contract renewal terms with Hollywood and streaming studios. The writers are seeking limits on the use of AI, minimum staffing requirements in writers’ rooms and better residuals from streaming services, which they say have eroded their ability to make a living.

After inflation, writers’ pay has dropped 14% in the last five years, according to the WGA. About half of union-represented writers work at the minimum pay scale today, compared with one-third a decade ago. Writers also are fighting shorter seasons for streaming series and efforts by the networks to pay them by the day, which the union describes as an effort to make a “gig economy inside a union workforce.” 

Award-winning showrunner and producer Shonda Rhimes, creator of “Scandal,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Bridgerton,” voiced her support for the strike at the BAFTA awards over the weekend. 

“I feel the pain of the people who are dealing with the strike, but for me, for writers to get paid for what they do in a fair way is far more important,” she said, according to the Hollywood Reporter. 

“To have somebody devalue art, it’s bad enough as it is right now. That’s happening everywhere. But for writers to not be able to make a living wage while making a television show or making a movie is a problem,” she added.

President Joe Biden also threw his weight behind the writers on Monday. “I sincerely hope the strike gets resolved, and writers are given a fair deal as soon as possible,” Biden said at a White House screening of “American Born Chinese,” CBS Los Angeles reported.

New deals on hold

In response to the strike, studios have mothballed deals with creators, Deadline reported. NBCUniversal, Disney, Warner Bros. and CBS Studios have sent letters putting deals on hold, the outlet reported. (CBS Studios and CBS News are both owned by Paramount Global.) 

“The financiers, the streamers, don’t want to move forward [on projects] until they have clarity on how long the strike will last,” film producer Jamin O’Brien told CBS MoneyWatch. “If there’s a long strike and they’re in pre-production, they’re carrying people on payroll longer than they need to.”

O’Brien, a member of the Directors Guild of America, said he has been picketing with writers in anticipation of the DGA’s own negotiations with film producers, which are scheduled to begin May 10. The studios’ contracts with the DGA and with SAG-AFTRA, the performers’ union, expire on June 30.

“I’m supporting the labor action,” he said. 

A major sticking point for him and other creators are residuals — licensing fees that networks pay to rerun a movie or TV show, but that streaming services don’t pay. For a writer on a mid-level show, licensing fees can add “hundreds of thousands of dollars” over the show’s lifetime, O’Brien said.

MTV Movie & TV Awards scramble to make changes due to writers’ strike


“They’ve all kicked the negotiations down the road,” he said of the three major Hollywood unions. “Residuals for streamers have been kicked down the road for two different rounds of negotiations. The current round, they’re not kicking it down the road, whether it’s residuals or pay increases, higher minimums, whatever they’re looking for.”

With some producers halting work in solidarity with writers, some ongoing productions have been temporarily halted. Shooting of Season 2 of the Apple TV+ series “Severance” has shut down, Deadline reported. Work on the last season of “Stranger Things” was also halted, the show’s producers announced Friday.

“Writing does not stop when filming begins,” creators Matt and Ross Duffer said on Twitter. “While we’re excited to start production with our amazing cast and crew, it is not possible during this strike. We hope a fair deal is reached soon so we can all get back to work. Until then — over and out.”

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button