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Hollywood is in a tempestuous state, and there's no end in sight to the on-going conflict. Members of the Writers Guild Of America have been on strike since May, and SAG-AFTRA actors joined them on the picket lines in July, but reports have suggested that there has been little progress in the unions' negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. It's presently unclear what will eventually resolve the intense dispute, but if it were up to former studio CEO Barry Diller, the first step would be for the legacy studios to distance themselves from Netflix, Amazon, and Apple.
Diller – a former CEO at Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox and the founder of the Fox Broadcasting Company and USA Broadcasting – was recently a guest featured in an episode of the podcast On with Kara Swisher, and offered his two cents on the 2023 work stoppages in Hollywood. According to him, the major film and television studios are presently doing themselves a disservice by aligning themselves with the major streaming services. While it's true that many of these companies have their own proprietary platforms, he argues that Netflix, Apple and Amazon have priorities that don't wholly line up with their own interests. Said Diller,
I think one fundamental thing: they should certainly get out of the room with their deepest, fiercest, and almost conclusive enemy, Netflix – and probably with Apple and Amazon. Netflix is in one business, and they are the rulers of the business they're in. The other two, Apple and Amazon Prime, are in completely different businesses that have no business model relative to production of movies and television. It’s just something they do to support their Prime or something they do to support their walled system at Apple.
The so-called "Streaming Wars" has been unfolding in the industry over the last few years, with Disney, Warner Bros., NBC Universal and more chasing Netflix and racing to create their own subscription platforms, but there are key differences in their businesses compared to Netflix, Apple, and Amazon.
If Barry Diller were the one calling the shots, he would work to set up separate negotiations with the writers and actors:
I think the producers ought to go and say, ‘We’re on our own. We’re going to go straight with you directly. We are your savior. Historically, we’ve been in business together for literally 100 years. We are your natural allies, not your enemies.'
The host asked Barry Diller if this is something that he has personally communicated this opinion to the current studio heads (who he refers to as "friends"), but he wouldn't disclose information about private discussions.
There is a lot of anxiety in Hollywood, with writers, actors and filmmakers experiencing financial strains and release schedules being in flux with major movies being delayed and TV shows shifted to 2024. Needless to say, there will be a lot of excitement when fair agreements are reached, and if that requires studios taking Barry Diller's advice, hopefully that happens sooner rather than later.