Studios Invoke Force Majeure: Cancel Development Deals

Posted on January 15, 2008

The studios are still playing chicken with the WGA. The producers have now fired a number of writers and directors who had development deals, citing the force majeure or "Act of God" clauses in their contracts. The Act of God cited is the writers' strike. The number and depth of the cuts has been surprising. The Hollywood Reporter reveals that ABC axed the most deals overall of the major studios.

All four issued similarly worded statements blaming the writers strike for the terminations, which are expected to save the studios tens of millions of dollars. But none came close to the nearly 30 overall deals axed at ABC Studios on Friday. CBS Par and 20th TV each dropped half that number. UMS and WBTV stayed in the single digits, with WBTV's termination tally said to be less than five deals. Like ABC Studios, CBS Par, UMS, 20th TV and WBTV mostly went after writers, producers and directors with no active projects.
As of today, the number of contracts has increased. Approximately 50 writers and producers lost their deals on "Black Monday". Another 30 or so also lost their deals with ABC Studios. For each one of these contracts that is canceled, it means hundreds of people will not be working.

This could ensure that there will be no scripted television next year, in addition to this year which is just plain crazy. Invoking force majeure seems to indicate that the AMPTP will not be going back to the negotiating table anytime soon. There is no way advertisers are happy about this.

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