The contract between the Writers Guild of America and the film and television studios is set to expire on May 1st, and as the negotiations between the sides have begun to collapse, the threat of a writers strike similar to the one in 2007-08 is becoming more and more likely.
The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Westworld co-showrunner and WGA member Jonathan Nolan to gather his thoughts about this looming crisis. While Nolan says that he would prefer to avoid a strike, when asked about whether or not he would vote yes to authorize the walkout, he asserts “a vote is part of showing the willingness of the membership to do what it takes.”
One of the issues Nolan is focused on tackling is the decrease in wages that writers experience when they agree to work on condensed seasons of television shows (like Westworld), as opposed to working on shows with 20+ episodes per season. Says Nolan:
“We’re still paid per episode, and now it’s 10 episodes with exclusivity. That means even if the show only takes a few months [to do], you’re still held to the show. That’s a 60 percent reduction in income.”
While the pending strike is certainly for the greater good in terms of properly rewarding the people who script all the brilliant content on our television screens, the timing of it is inopportune. Nolan and fellow showrunner Lisa Joy are currently immersed in writing all 10 scripts for Westworld’s sophomore season, and a strike could set their progress back.
Juggling the hats of showrunner and writer on the HBO hit no doubt puts Nolan in a difficult position. On the one hand he must worry about his actors and crew, who may be adversely affected should a writers strike cause a delay in production. On the other hand, as a writer and member of the WGA, he assumes the responsibility of making sure that the industry’s scribes receive a fair deal for their hard work.
If there is a silver lining to this story, however thin it may be, it is this: Westworld has already experienced the tumultuous waters that accompany the delaying of a major television production, and still managed to produce an inspiring and record-breaking first season. If a delay in the show’s second run is all but inevitable, one can hope that Nolan and Joy are even more equipped this time around to handle it in stride and not lose sight of the finish line.
On a more exciting note, Entertainment Weekly has teased out a few small details from Nolan and Joy about the upcoming season. Speaking to the first season cliffhanger with the hosts beginning to rise up against their human captors, Joy admits “you’re definitely going to see the aftermath and the effects of what happened”, with Nolan adding “we are definitely not picking up right where we left off.”
Vague? Absolutely (to no one’s surprise). Telling? Maybe. Could this mean we won’t be treated to the initial battle that seems to be unfolding between hosts and humans, and instead we’ll pick up post-fight as the dust settles?
How do you think our beloved Wild West drama will fair against the potential writers strike? And what do you make of Nolan and Joy’s little tidbits? Let us know!