Now that we are over three months into the writer’s strike, more and more studios and executives are starting to feel the sting. That’s the point of a strike, of course–to be disruptive–and it looks like Warner Bros. is feeling that sting in a very painful way.
According to Deadline, “Warner Bros. Television has moved in to suspend the remaining overall deals with…Greg Berlanti Productions, Bill Lawrence’s Doozer Productions, and Mindy Kaling’s Kaling International,” and sources claim “JJ Abrams’ Bad Robot also is in the process of being notified.”
Warner Bros. has suspended overall deals with JJ Abrams, Greg Berlanti, Mindy Kaling, Bill Lawrence, and more
If this whole thing is giving you a profound sense of deja vu, then don’t worry: you’re not crazy. Three months ago, WBTV sent out letters to the various “writer-producers under overall and first-look agreements who don’t have series in production or post-production, informing them that their deals are being suspended.”
Based on this information, you may not think the current Warner Bros. announcement comes as much of a shock.
However, months ago, “WBTV did not suspend some of its top talent, especially those who had active projects.” That is what is happening now, with some of the biggest names in entertainment being affected.
This includes Greg Berlanti (a TV legend who made the popular Arrowverse into a reality), Mindy Kaling (the popular The Office alumna whose controversial Velma series set the internet on fire), and J.J. Abrams (the Lost mastermind who was going to be working on the period-piece Duster for Warner Bros.).
As usual, though, we’d recommend you not cry too much for this top talent: as near as anyone can tell, they are facing a “suspend- and-expend” in which “they will get the time of the suspension added to the end of their term.” In other words, Warner Bros. most likely wants to keep working on these different projects once the strike is over.
While that is good news for these big names, there are many other creatives that are going to be hit harder by WBTV’s recent decision, and that will likely reduce even further how much content is offered on HBO Max.
In short, there is a large number of lesser-known writers who have “lower and mid-level pacts” with Warner Bros that don’t include the sweetheart suspend-and-expend agreement. Under such deals, their own contracts with WBTV may have expired by the end of the strike, leaving those creators to try to re-negotiate with the studio, find a new home for their projects (if possible), or simply begin a new project somewhere else.
Still, for Warner Bros. writers of all stripes, there is something of a silver lining here, and that’s the fact that the studio hasn’t made any overall deal terminations (that’s why these creators are facing suspensions rather than terminations).
This is notably different from how WB and other studios reacted during the WGA strike of 2007-2008, but even that bit of good news may come as a result of bad news. Specifically, Warner Bros. has already let so many creatives go in the last year that they can afford to merely suspend projects rather than terminate deals altogether.
What may be bad news for certain Warner Bros. writer-producers may be good news for striking writers, though. It’s obvious that striking has had its intended effect and that some of the biggest studios in the world are starting to feel the heat. With any luck, the strikes will end with a happy resolution (and what some would call the only resolution): Hollywood writers getting paid a fair wage for the content that subsequently makes studios millions upon millions of dollars.