EXCLUSIVE: As the WGA, studios and streamers prepare to restart negotiations later this week, hundreds of united showrunners are on the verge of making a major donation to help those hit hard by the ongoing strikes.
Launching off an initial $200,000 culled from a group of veteran showrunners, around 250 showrunners have contributed more than $260,000 more as of Monday afternoon, bringing the total up to near $500,000 to date.
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The money, from mainly anonymous donors, will go to the Entertainment Community Fund. (Click for the showrunner donation link).
Of the 250 who have contributed online the past week and made their names public are The Walking Dead’s Angela Kang, I’m A Virgo’s Boots Riley, Rutherford Falls co-creator Sierra Teller Ornelas, Hunters’ Natalie Chaidez, Arrow’s Marc Guggenheim and Matrix co-creator Lilly Wachowski. Cutting to the heart of the sentiment out on the picket lines, Wachowski added, “Let’s beat these f-ing mf-ers!”
“Any group of showrunners will be filled with as many opinions as there are showrunners, but two things unify us all: our insistence on a fair deal for writers and our immense gratitude for the hardship currently borne by the artists who work tirelessly in collaboration with us,” one of the initiators of the September 10-launched effort told Deadline. “As talks resume this week, showing our collective support for our tremendously talented crews, not just emotionally, but financially, was incredibly important to us.”
Putting skin and cash in the game since the week in early May that the WGA hit the picket lines, the ECF has handed out over $6 million in financial aid to approximately 3,000 film and TV workers over the months. With many feeling the tight squeeze to make rent, mortgage and other necessary payments in recent weeks, such assistance has proven a lifeline as the labor action has continued.
Individual showrunners have been putting their hands in their own pockets since the strikes began, with a number making sure scribes, cast and crews on their shows have been at least partially taken care of. On September 8, both Greg Berlanti, who had seen his WB TV deal suspended two days before, and Ryan Murphy announced funds of $500,000 respectively for strike relief for their people. Having been one of the showrunners who had given $1.7 million previously to the ECF, Berlanti said last week he would be donating a further $150,000 to the organization and the Motion Picture & Television Fund.
There is still no bright indication of a light at the end of the tunnel, but the September 20 set talks between the WGA and the AMPTP has brought at least a whiff of optimism to what has been a rather dire situation.
In some ways, refuting recent rumors that there was serious dissent among some top showrunners with the way the WGA Negotiating Committee was handing things, the donation effort has made a point of stressing unity from the jump.
“We comprise a vast, diverse group of writers with a vast, diverse way of approaching the strike, but the one place we are truly united is in our shared empathy for those currently suffering – this is a way for us all to come together and demonstrate that collective empathy,” the group states on their donation page. “It doesn’t matter if you donate five bucks or five hundred, this is a show of care and support from ALL of us.”
The average donation so far has been about $1,000, I’m told
The successful collective donation drive comes on the heels a massive showrunner turn out on the picket line at Fox on September 12. It also follows an on-again, off-again, and off-again attempt by the likes of black-ish’s Kenya Barris, Fago’s Noah Hawley and some other showrunners to schedule a sit-don with the WGA brass for what was being termed “an information session.” Finally last week set for September 15 at WGA West HQ, the meeting was mutually canceled early that day after news that the guild and the besieged studios and steamers would resume talking.
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