George R. R. Martin Weighs in on Hollywood Writers' Strike

George R. R. Martin, whose A Song of Ice and Fire book series inspired the hugely successful HBO show Game of Thrones, has weighed in on Hollywood's ongoing writers' and actors' strikes and how they have affected some of his projects.

In a post shared on his eponymous blog over the weekend, Martin, 74, described the writers' strike as "the most important of my lifetime," as he predicted that the current wave of industrial action could well be "long and bitter."

Earlier this month, after negotiations broke down over pay structures, the Screen Actors Guild—American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) decided its 160,000 members would go on strike.

The move meant the actors would join members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) who have been on the picket lines for the past six weeks. This has essentially shut down Hollywood, marking the first time in more than 60 years that both groups have staged a walkout.

George R. R. Martin
George R. R. Martin is pictured on March 07, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. In his latest blog post, the novelist has weighed in on Hollywood's ongoing writers' strike. Amanda Edwards/WireImage/Getty Images

Both unions have locked horns with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) over contractual terms, including pay. The studios' refusal to rule out artificial intelligence one day replacing human workers escalated the tensions. The AMPTP comprises the major studios: Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Disney, Warner Bros., NBC Universal, Sony and Paramount.

There have also been issues with actors and screenwriters' compensation not correlating with the billions of streams that shows and films now often draw.

In his blog entry, Martin said that when it comes to writers, "well, the studios are not even TALKING to us. All negotiations between AMPTP and the WGA shut down back in May when the strike started. It is hard to reach any agreement when the other side won't even come to the table."

"I joined the WGA in 1986 and have been through several strikes with them," he went on. "We made gains in all of them, but some issues are more important than others... and this year's strike is the most important of my lifetime. An unnamed producer was quoted last week saying the AMPTP strategy was to stand fast until the writers started losing their homes and apartments, which gives you a hint of what we're facing.

"But we ARE facing it. I have never seen such unity in the Guilds; the strike authorization votes for both SAG and WGA were as close to unanimous as we are ever likely to see."

In a statement shared with Newsweek, representatives of AMPTP said that the trade association "presented a deal that offered historic pay and residual increases, substantially higher caps on pension and health contributions, audition protections, shortened series option periods, and a groundbreaking AI proposal that protects actors' digital likenesses for SAG-AFTRA members."

"A strike is certainly not the outcome we hoped for as studios cannot operate without the performers that bring our TV shows and films to life," the statement continued. "The Union has regrettably chosen a path that will lead to financial hardship for countless thousands of people who depend on the industry."

Emma D'Arcy in House of the Dragon
Emma D'Arcy as Rhaeyra Targaryen in the "House of the Dragon" finale. George R. R. Martin has revealed that production on much of the show's second season has been completed. Ollie Upton/HBO

In his blog post, Martin shared where the industrial action leaves his own projects, revealing that production on the second season of Dark Winds wrapped before the strike began. While the show is expected to be released as usual, the actors and writers on the project will not be promoting it, per strike rules.

He also confirmed that Game of Thrones spinoff House of the Dragon is "one of the few shows [still] shooting" and that he was informed the second season is "half done." All scripts, he said, had been completed before the WGA strike began.

House of the Dragon, he said, "is shot mostly in London (and a little bit in Wales, Spain, and various other locations), which is why filming has continued. The actors are members of the British union, Equity, not SAG-AFTRA, and though Equity strongly supports their American cousins (they have a big rally planned to show that support), British law forbids them from staging a sympathy strike. If they walk, they have no protection against being fired for breach of contract, or even sued."

In a statement, Equity told Newsweek that it stands in "unwavering solidarity" with SAG-AFTRA while criticizing the "draconian" legislation it is bound by.

"Equity stands full square behind our sister union in their claim and the action their Board have agreed to take," the statement said. "Equity too is experiencing bullish engagers attempting to undermine its collectively bargained agreements. SAG-AFTRA has our total solidarity in this fight."

Martin, who said he was "shocked to hear" of the restrictions binding Equity members, also revealed in his blog post that his own overall multi-project deal with HBO was suspended on June 1.

"I still have plenty to do, of course. In that, I am one of the lucky ones," he said. "These strikes are not really about name writers or producers or showrunners, most of whom are fine; we're striking for the entry level writers, the story editors, the students hoping to break in, the actor who has four lines, the guy working his first staff job who dreams of creating his own show one day, as I did back in the 80s."

Among the projects keeping Martin busy are stage production The Iron Throne, editing books from the Wild Cards series, and perfecting The Winds of Winter, the next anticipated book in his A Song of Ice and Fire series.

"I hope we will have your support," he concluded his post. "HONK if you see us picketing... and NEVER cross a picket line... and maybe we will be able to get this settled quickly. Before we all lose our houses...."

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