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Daily Digest: Oof! 'Creators' Gather Outside WBD
The launch of Max is perceived as 'a total insult'
Kerfuffle of the day: Warner Bros. Discovery streaming service Max (née HBO Max) got the long-anticipated rebranding treatment Tuesday, losing the “HBO” and gaining a slew of angry writers who discovered, to their dismay, that the credits section now lumped together writers, directors and producers simply as “creators.”
Why the upset over the lack of distinction? As one showrunner put it to me: “Directors, writers have a very specific job. In Hollywood there’s this whole layer of non-writing executive producers, a revolving door between agents and studio execs,” this person says, calling those non-writing EPs “parasites” who share credits with creatives.
“Who are all these people who are sucking money out of the budget and making my life harder? It’s insulting to be lumped into the same category,” continues the showrunner.
The timing of the move — more than three weeks into the writers strike — left a bad taste in many a mouth, and prompted a joint response from the Writers Guild and Directors Guild first thing this morning. WGA head Meredith Stiehm said it was not only a credits violation, but an “attempt to diminish writers' contributions and importance echoes the message we heard in our negotiations with AMPTP — that writers are marginal, inessential, and should simply accept being paid less and less, while our employers' profits go higher and higher.”
DGA president Lesli Linka Glatter said the bundling into a “generic category of 'creators' in their new Max rollout while we are in negotiations with them is a grave insult to our members and our union.” The DGA and the studios, which are currently engaged in their own negotiations, are reportedly still far away from being anywhere near on the same page.
When I reached out to WBD for a response, I was told by a spokesperson that “we agree that the talent behind the content on Max deserve their work to be properly recognized. We will correct the credits, which were altered due to an oversight in the technical transition from HBO Max to Max and we apologize for this mistake.”
Suffice it to say, there’s a great deal of skepticism that the change was an accident or mere oversight, as “creators” on the picket lines told me today. Writer and director David Benullo, for instance, calls it “a total insult” and believes it was an attempt to de-legitimize those who contributed creative work to a show.
Watch his full interview below.
Meanwhile, today was "Superhero Day” on the picket lines at Warner Bros., which meant all manner of costumed writers and showrunners were out and about… including mega-producer Greg Berlanti, among others.
In Today’s Strike News
“This is a growth opportunity for us,” says Endeavor President and COO Mark Shapiro, who argues that WME’s representation business will benefit from the WGA strike coming to a resolution. (Deadline)
Vanity Fair delivers best practices for the picket line, from dress code to dog etiquette to rules of engagement. “Keep the vibes positive… The exception to this rule is any multimillionaire entertainment CEO: go ahead and boo them.” (Vanity Fair)
Santa Monica-based non-profit Humanitas has been delivering snacks, supplies and now grocery cards to early-career writers on the picket lines. (KCRW)
Picket Sign of the Day
As seen in Burbank outside the Warner Bros. Discovery lot: “Hulk smash mini rooms”