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Universal Studio Group, CBS Studios suspend overall deals with top talent

NBCUniversal’s Universal Studio Group (USG) and Paramount-owned CBS Studios have suspended numerous overall deals with top talent as the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike continues.

Dwayne Johnson

With talent unable to render work due to the ongoing strike, now in its 20th week, Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video and Dwayne Johnson’s Seven Bucks are among an unknown number of film and TV deals put on pause at USG.

CBS Studios, meanwhile, has suspended deals with talkshow star Phil ‘Dr Phil’ McGraw, film producer DeVon Franklin (BET+’s Kingdom Business) and Nancy Drew executive producer Lis Rowinski, according to US reports.

A suspension means the deals will be put on hold, rather than cancelled, and will resume once the strike ends and production resumes. In addition, the duration of the suspension will be added to the end of the deal.

It comes after fellow US studio Warner Bros Television (WBTV) suspended its overall deals with top Hollywood creative talent last week.

The TV studio arm of Warner Bros Discovery (WBD) paused deals with Greg Berlanti (Arrow), JJ Abrams’s prodco Bad Robot Productions (Lost), Mindy Kaling (Never Have I Ever), Chuck Lorre (The Big Bang Theory), Bill Lawrence (Ted Lasso) and John Wells (The West Wing).

The move to suspend the overall deals comes four months after all the major studios notified writers and producers who didn’t have shows remaining in production that their first-look and overall deals were being paused.

That initial raft of suspensions – enacted before actors’ union SAG-AFTRA joined the Writers Guild of America (WGA) on the picket lines – did not cover all producers, including some of Hollywood’s most recognisable producer talent.

While the WGA strike in 2007/2008 saw many overall deals cancelled outright, that has not, up until this point at least, been the case this time around. That is partly due to the fact many of the studios have already reduced their overall number of talent deals. At this stage of the strike, with studio heads publicly expressing a desire to get the industry back to work, it is unlikely they will opt to cancel any high-profile deals as they want to hit the ground running when the dual strikes conclude.

The WGA claimed at the end of last week that certain “legacy studios” within the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) have broken ranks and quietly expressed a “desire and willingness” to do a deal that would break the negotiating impasse.


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