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David Zaslav and Bob Iger Feel the Heat as Writers’ Strike Continues

Bob Iger

Bob Iger Disney (YouTube clip)

Hollywood moguls David Zaslav and Bob Iger are so far the biggest losers in the ongoing writers’ strike, or so it seems. The two bigwigs, one is the head of Warner Bros (Zaslov) and the other leads Disney, are being cited by many as examples of what is wrong with the entertainment industry because of the fact that they make hundreds of millions while most writers can barely make the rent.

For example, David Zaslav was booed wildly when he addressed the Boston University graduation ceremony in May.

One of the main issues behind the strike is the possibility that studios will do away with most writers’ jobs and use AI programs like ChatGPT instead to write screenplays.

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This is why the Writers Guild of Amara (WGA) is on strike against the studios. Even the successful and wealthy Hollywood writers say that this strike is in no danger of being broken by the big corporations that own the Hollywood studios because the average WGA member has trouble making the rent even when they are working. As suchg, they have little to lose from the lack of work as the strike continues. Basically, they all have “day jobs” anyway.

And as the faces of the industry, David Zaslav, Bob Iger and the rest are being vilified. And make no mistake, this is not like when Major League baseball or NBA players go on strike. When that happens, the players are already millionaires with the newest ones making multiple six figure salaries. But with the screenwriters, most make little for their work on television shows and movies and do not have full-time contracts.

And in those cases, the players are the stars with the fan bases, not the owners. So it makes sense that they would gain public support. Bit Hollywood writers are almost all completely unknown, even the ones who have won Oscars and Emmys.

Stephen Galloway, dean of Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, explained the situation to Vanity Fair.

“The actors and writers are sending in the Spartan hordes while Rome is crumbling, and you’ve got Bob Iger doing one of the biggest foot-in-mouth cases of any executive ever,” he said.

Charlie Kaufman (“Adaptation,” “Being John Malkovich”) is one of the few WGA members who is wealthy and famous. And he is in full support of the strike; even though, he personally does not stand to gain much from it.

Kauffman slammed the studio heads for giving themselves what he feels is excessive pay while not compensating writers enough. And, in his opinion, the executives actually do more harm than good for the industry overall as they cash their big paychecks.

The Oscar winning writer told Variety, “It’s disgusting because they (the studio head) don’t do anything. No, they do damage is what they do. They do damage to the art form. And by doing that, they do damage to humanity. And if everything is about the bottom line for them and saving money, then there’s nothing left to the art form.”

Another sign that the studio heads like David Zaslov and Bob Iger need to be worried about is that not only did the actors join the strike with the writers, but the big name stars have been vocal in their support of the strikes and some are manning the picket lines themselves. This is in spite of the fact that they have little to gain from the strike themselves.

For example, Emmy winning actor Bryan Cranston spoke out at a rally recently. Referring directly to Bob Iger, Cranston said, “I know, sir that you look at things through a different lens. We don’t expect you to understand who we are. But we will not be having our jobs taken away and given to robots. We will not have you take away our right to work and earn a decent living. And lastly, and most importantly, we will not allow you to take away our dignity!”

Studio heads like Bob Iger and David Zaslov, however, are probably not bothered by these personal attacks. They will, however, be moved to make a deal if and when their respective companies’ stocks slide when they start to feel the pinch from lost revenues due to the strikes.



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