More busy weeks in TV: Strike action looks for ‘Max’ impact…

Credits where they're due? The newly-relaunched Max platform only added to current industry angst...

If the Powers That Be thought that the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike would quickly fizzle, it appears the opposite has been happening with major acting names and talents joining the WGA members on the picket-line, shutting down various productions and drawing further attention to the cause.

Shows such as The Last of Us (currently prepping its second run but with no full scripts yet produced) join the likes of Stranger Things and Andor that won’t push forward until the strike is over.  No casting or writing will take place on The Last of Us and both Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann will not be working in any capacity on it until conditions change showing solidarity for the cause.

J J Abrams new drama Duster (a crime series set in 1972) has had production suspended more than once in the last week and Abrams himself was on a WGA picket-line at the start of May. It was confirmed on Thursday that the filming will now not resume until the strike is over. Duster is only the latest Max show to feel the effects, following the temporary suspension of filming on The Penguin (starring Colin Farrell as the eponymous Gotham City villain) last week. FX drama series The Old Man (starring Jeff Bridges) also stopped filming.

Pictured (L to R): Clancy Brown, Steven Melching, William H. Macy and Henry Gilroy. Photo by Kerry Glover.

After actors from all modern eras of Star Trek made their presence known in the last weeks, the animation sector and major voice talent joined their colleagues on the sidewalk and made their presence known with banners, placards and voices. These included the likes of Clancy Brown and William H Macy. (Production has halted on Strange New Worlds‘ Season 3, though the second season will hit screens as planned next month – with an interesting crossover with the animated Lower Decks).

Marvel Studios have been significantly affected regarding forthcoming projects. The Thunderbolts film (about a group on anti-heroes/ex-villains brought together to do some of the jobs the Avengers can’t or won’t) is now on hold until after the strike, pre-production on the Blade reboot is now stalled for the same reason and production has halted on the planned Wonder Man series.

Though series such as House of the Dragon are claiming not to be impacted (the series’ producers say all scripts were completed ahead of the strike and filming has continued in the UK), it looks as if the upcoming production of Blade Runner 2099 hasn’t been so lucky with the BBC reporting that the anticipated show won’t begin shooting until after the strike is over. The delay and rescheduling factor could mean a pragmatic delay of over a year. Shows, such as HBO‘s other hit Euphoria may also be pushed back by default because of delays on other projects.

One thing that has further irked the creative forces and unions are some of the changes involved in the newly-relaunched MAX (previously known as HBO MAX).  When listing credits for the various movies on the platform, these are now far less defined or prioritised, people are lumped in together whatever their contribution – not stated as filmmakers: directors, writers, cinematographers… just co-creators with no clarity. For example the likes of classic film  Raging Bull doesn’t cite Martin Scorsese as the director, it simply lists Peter Savage, Martin Scorsese, Mardick Martin, Robert Chartoff, Paul Schrader, Jake La Motta, Irwin Winkler and Joseph Carter as a list of ‘creators’ and  even The Silence of the Lambs‘ acting talent lists Scott Glenn and Ted Levine ahead of Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster.

Pictured: Kerry Glover and Clancy Brown – Photo by Henry Gilroy

This would appear to already break the rules of the existing rules regarding production talent. The DGA (Directors Guild of America) rulebook cites that the name of a director must be clearly and specifically cited for that role. It’s already garnered disbelief and anger from behind-the-camera talent.

For almost 90 years, the Directors Guild has fought fiercely to protect the credit and recognition deserved by Directors for the work they create. Warner Bros. Discovery’s unilateral move, without notice or consultation, to collapse directors, writers, producers and others 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,” said DGA president Lesli Linka Glatter. “This devaluation of the individual contributions of artists is a disturbing trend and the DGA will not stand for it. We intend on taking the strongest possible actions, in solidarity with the WGA, to ensure every artist receives the individual credit they deserve…

Responding to the DGA and industry complaints, MAX appeared to backtrack and blamed the situation on technology, saying: “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…

That being said, it appears that it may be some time before those credits are actually altered to their correct and fuller status…