A wave of terminations has swept through Hollywood since last Friday, as the contracts of nearly 75 TV writers and producer (and their staffs) were canceled under force majeure provisions. It started on Friday, when ABC Studios terminated more than two dozen deals, including those of Curb Your Enthusiasm helmer Larry Charles and Brothers & Sisters creator/executive producer Jon Robin Baitz, who has recently blasted ABC in a series of blog entries on The Huffington Post.
A second round of terminations were announced on Monday, as Warner Bros. TV, CBS Paramount Network TV, Universal Media Studios, and 20th Century Fox TV slashed the deals of another 45-50 TV writers and producers. Among the more recent casualties are Paul Redford and Kevin Falls (Journeyman), Larry Kaplow (K-Ville), Rene Echevarria (Medium), Barbara Hall (Joan of Arcadia), Barry Schindel (Numb3rs), and Hugh Jackman’s production company, which recently delivered bomb Viva Laughlin.
Force majeure–or “act of God”–provisions in the contracts allow studios to terminate deals with writers and producers four to six weeks into a work stoppage. By eliminating the deals now, the studios will no longer be obligated to pay the writers even if the strike ends tomorrow. It’s a way for the studios to eliminate some of what they may consider “dead weight” by getting out of costly contracts that they’re no longer interested in maintaining. The timing of the terminations could simply be the result of belt-tightening by the studios, or it could be a sign that the AMPTP is close to making a deal with the DGA–a deal that could mean that the end of this strike is just around the corner.