May 2, 2023

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A picture of the Hollywood sign

Hollywood Strikes Back

The Story

For the first time in 15 years, Hollywood writers are going on strike.

Catch me up. 

For weeks, the Writers Guild of America — a labor union representing about 11,000 TV and film writers — has been trying to flip the script on their working conditions amid new contract negotiations. Since Tinseltown entered its streaming era, writers say they’ve had to work longer hours for lower wages. They called on the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) — which represents Amazon, Apple, and Disney — to boost pay and grant protections from AI rewrites. It comes as the media and tech companies that help produce shows have seen their stocks drop, leading to cost cuts and layoffs. Last night, both sides failed to reach a deal ahead of the midnight deadline. The main point of contention? Guaranteeing enough staffing on shows. Now, the Guild has called on its members to hit picket lines starting this afternoon in LA, New York, and other major cities. 

Now what?

The strike could last anywhere from weeks to months, bringing TV and film productions to a halt. The last strike in 2007-2008 went on for 100 days. While many shows have already filmed their final episodes for this year, soap operas and shows like “Saturday Night Live” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” could end their seasons early or go temporarily off air. But it’s not just studios that could feel the pinch. A strike could also impact the California economy, which lost about $2.1 billion in ‘08. The Guild said the AMPTP’s response amid negotiations has been “wholly insufficient.” Meanwhile, the AMPTP said it remains committed to finding an agreement that's “mutually beneficial to writers and the health and longevity of the industry.”


Many hoped an 11th hour deal would stave off a Hollywood shakeup. Now, there’s a different type of drama that’s playing out. Amid layoffs and a looming recession, we might not be able to find comfort in our favorite shows either. 

and also...this

What the feds are looking into…

Emergency abortions. Yesterday, an Associated Press report said a federal investigation found two hospitals broke the law when they failed to provide the procedure in an emergency situation. Last August, Freeman Health System in Missouri and University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas denied Mylissa Farmer an abortion after her water broke early at 17 weeks of pregnancy. Doctors at both hospitals told Farmer that her fetus would not survive, but they didn't terminate the pregnancy because they could still detect a heartbeat. Ultimately, Farmer traveled to an abortion clinic in Illinois. Farmer is one of many women who've reported that hospitals have denied abortion services, despite their lives being at risk. Now, the AP report says the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has sent warnings to the hospitals and reminded them that federal law requires doctors to treat patients in emergency situations — including in states where abortion is banned.

Who’s saying ‘you’ve been warned’…

The ‘Godfather of AI.’ Yesterday, Geoffrey Hinton confirmed he resigned from Google due to his growing concerns over AI's fast-paced development. Hinton is considered a pioneer of the technology and worked at Google for over a decade. Now, he’s warning AI could surpass human intelligence, lead to a flood of misinformation, transform the job market, and be a threat to humanity. Hinton joins a growing number of critics who've sounded the alarm around AI development. For its part, Google said it's “committed to a responsible approach to AI.”

...Oh and speaking of AI, a study recently found ChatGPT could respond to patient questions with more empathy than a human physician.

Who's re-examining the workforce...

The class of 2023. Yesterday, the job recruiting platform Handshake released a report showing how this year’s grads are preparing to enter a wobbly economy and hybrid work environments. The report shows that the generation that spent a good chunk of their college career via Zoom university is craving in-person connection. More than 70% say they prefer a hybrid work arrangement. And many aren't chasing big-name companies. Instead, they're more interested in stability and a starting salary.

While Aerosmith is bowing out…

Anna May Wong is saying 'hello' to Barbie.

What’s got us saying ‘purr’...

The Met Gala.

What was apparently a-peel-ing…

A $120,000 banana.

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