US Politics

Marion McKeone: Studios’ showdown with writers leaves Hollywood a ghost town

It’s a tense wait to see who will blink first in the week-old strike of 11,500 members of the Writers Guild of America against a brutal squeeze on pay and conditions by studios and streaming giants

Strikers from the Writers Guild of America outside of NBC/Universal Studios in Universal City: the last strike took place in 2007 when writers fought, largely successfully, to obtain a share of the profits from hit series that enjoyed huge success. Picture: Getty

Like pilot fish that nibble on morsels from the mouths of sharks, there are hundreds of small businesses in Los Angeles that depend on behemoth studios like Disney, Paramount and Warner Brothers and streaming giants like Amazon, Netflix and HBO for their survival.

From Beverly Boulevard to Culver City, every coffee shop has a revolving door of television writers day in, day out. These aren’t the struggling types desperately honing the 25th draft of their first screenplay who nurse a cup of coffee for five or six hours in exchange for a table and a socket that can keep their laptop juiced. They are writers and show runners for hit shows like Real Time With Bill Maher, and Jimmy Kimmel Live!