NBCU Execs Silent on Writers Strike as Picket Line Rages Outside Peacock NewFront
NBCUniversal executives did not comment on the writers strike at its New York-based NewFront presentation to advertisers Tuesday, even as hundreds of Writers Guild of America members and their supporters rallied in a picket line outside the 5th Avenue event.
The scripts for the occasion, led by Peacock president Kelly Campbell, were prepped ahead of Monday’s late-night call for a strike once contract negotiations broke down between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). They were not modified Tuesday to include remarks about the strike, despite the fact TV and film writers had gathered in mass outside at the WGA East’s only planned protest for Day 1 of the work stoppage.
“At NBCUniversal, we’re known for incredible storytelling. But my favorite story from this past year isn’t about a big-hearted human lie detector or a kick-ass nun on a mission,” Campbell said at the top of the presentation, referencing recent Peacock series “Poker Face” and “Mrs. Davis.” “It’s a coming-of-age tale. It’s a story about a late bloomer with big aspirations who after a little life experience starts to turn ambition into reality, hits its stride, and transforms from an underdog into an unmatched contender. This has been an incredible year for Peacock.”
Earlier Tuesday, Peacock’s sister broadcast network NBC confirmed both its late night programs, “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and “Late Night With Seth Meyers,” would be going dark until further notice due to the writers strike — a move also made by competing late-night shows. And just after the NewFront concluded, NBC announced “Saturday Night Live” would also be going off the air for the time being.
The Peacock NewFront was focused on the streaming product itself and original series including “Poker Face,” “Mrs. Davis” and the soon-to-be-released “Bupkis,” as well as sports and live news, late-night shows and “SNL,” all of which were plugged in the sizzles rolled in front of advertisers. However, Campbell and Susan Rovner (NBCU TV and streaming chairman of entertainment content) also discussed upcoming projects — including Peacock’s adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s “Apples Never Fall” — not all of which are completed and could potentially be affected by the strike, depending on how long it goes on.
AMPTP ended contract talks with the WGA on Monday night, hours before the contract expiration deadline. The WGA responded by calling for a strike to begin on Tuesday, with picket lines forming in front of the Peacock NewFront in NYC, as well as the Paramount, Netflix and Fox offices in Los Angeles.
In a statement, the AMPTP said the major sticking points are the guild’s proposal for a TV staffing minimum and a minimum number of weeks of guaranteed work on a TV season. The WGA outlined the major differences between the two sides, which include the AMPTP’s refusal to consider a streaming residual that would pay more for hit shows.
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