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NBCUniversal Halts Deals with Dwayne Johnson and Lorne Michaels: The Latest Impact of the Writers Guild Strike

Published on September 12th, 2023 | Updated on September 12th, 2023 | By FanFest

NBCUniversal Halts Deals with Dwayne Johnson and Lorne Michaels: The Latest Impact of the Writers Guild Strike

NBCUniversal Halts Deals with Dwayne Johnson and Lorne Michaels: The Latest Impact of the Writers Guild Strike

A Pivotal Shift in Television Industry Dynamics

NBCUniversal has put a temporary freeze on its writing contracts with both Dwayne Johnson, the former WWE superstar turned actor, and Lorne Michaels, the man behind the SNL legacy. This development represents the latest wave of fallout in an industry reeling from the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike, now in its 132nd day.

The Toll of the WGA Strike on Television Productions

Earlier this week, Universal Studio Group made the unprecedented decision to suspend several significant agreements. These suspensions include deals with Michaels’ Broadway Video, Johnson’s Seven Bucks Productions, and several other key players. This suspension is a direct consequence of the prolonged WGA strike, which shows no signs of abating.

What Does the Suspension Mean for Involved Parties?

According to THR, Universal has opened the door for those affected by these suspensions to take on non-writing roles within the studio. However, it remains to be seen whether Michaels or Johnson will assume other producing responsibilities in the absence of active writing deals. Notably, trade reports suggest that Tina Fey, Sam Esmail, and Mike Schur are also caught in the crosshairs, with their deals currently on ice.

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Who’s Still in the Game?

Interestingly, some writer-producers appear to be immune to these suspensions. As per initial reports, Seth MacFarlane continues his producing duties for the Ted reboot on NBCUniversal’s streaming service Peacock. Additionally, Dick Wolf is focused on creating unscripted content for NBCUniversal.

Wider Industry Impact: Beyond NBCUniversal

The decision by NBCUniversal echoes a similar move by Warner Bros. Discovery. Recently, the studio suspended deals with many of its principal writers, including well-known names like Greg Berlanti, Chuck Lorre, Bill Lawrence, Mindy Kaling, and J.J. Abrams. This wide-scale suspension sends a clear message about the depth and seriousness of the ongoing strike.

Radio Silence from Negotiation Tables

Despite the urgent need for a resolution, the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) have been notably quiet. Last month, the guild informed its members: “We will evaluate their offer and, after deliberation, go back to them with the WGA’s response next week. Sometimes more progress can be made in negotiations when they are conducted without a blow-by-blow description of the moves on each side and a subsequent public dissection of the meaning of the moves. That will be our approach, at least for the time being, until there is something of significance to report, or unless management uses the media or industry surrogates to try to influence the narrative.”

Final Thoughts: The Future is Uncertain

The suspension of these major deals signifies the substantial impact the WGA strike is having on the television industry. It throws into question future projects and places a burden on all parties involved, from the top producers to the network executives. As the strike stretches on, the entire industry remains on tenterhooks, waiting for either a resolution or an escalation. The question on everyone’s mind: How will this protracted battle reshape the landscape of television production? With both sides holding their cards close to their chests, the outcome is anything but predictable.

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