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Warner Bros. TV has suspended overall deals with more of its A-list, marquee producers, which is believed to include Greg Berlanti, Bill Lawrence, John Wells, Chuck Lorre and Mindy Kaling, as well as J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot shingle.
Some of those names, including Wells and Lorre, may have seen their deals suspended earlier. The latest news comes months after Warner Bros. TV, along with Amazon, HBO, Warner Bros. TV, NBCUniversal, Disney, CBS Studios and other major struck studios had previously suspended some first-look and overall deals amid the ongoing writers strike.
Those suspensions took place in May, soon after the WGA strike began, and didn’t include producers who still had shows in production. At the time, this was prior to the SAG-AFTRA strike had started, which meant actors were still on some sets, with production continuing on shows that had already been written.
Some writer/producers also double as DGA members and directors on their projects; because the DGA sealed a new deal with the AMPTP and has not been on strike, those duties have still been allowed during these recent months.
But production has been almost completely shut down since SAG-AFTRA joined WGA members on the picket line in July. Once talent is no longer able to render services, the policy is generally to suspend deals.
Such a deal suspension is different from overall terminations, which so far have not been widely seen in the industry — even though the writers strike has already passed 90-day mark when, historically, dealmakers have the option to kill agreements in the face of an “act of God” (the common show business interpretation for how the phrase “force majeure” applies to these type of labor shutdowns).
Overall deals typically pay overhead for a writer’s company and fund the development of projects. First-look deals also provide financial padding and, in return, guarantee that the studio or company has favored nation status when it comes to determining potential distribution of a series or film.
Insiders note that suspensions usually only put a deal on hold while no work is being done anyway. Once production resumes, the deals resume, with the previously suspended time tacked onto the end of the pact. But it still means that the overhead to pay salaries at companies like Bad Robot will be paused, impacting staffers in the meantime.