NBCUniversal’s Universal Studio Group has suspended Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video and Dwayne Johnson’s Seven Bucks along with an unknown number of other film and TV deals as the ongoing labor clash between the writers guild and Hollywood’s studios and streamers enters its 20th week.
Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that Universal Studio Group — which includes Universal Television, Universal Content Productions and Universal Pictures, among other divisions — reached out to its remaining writing and producing partners Monday to see if they were comfortable with contributing non-writing services. Those who still have active scripted or unscripted projects who agreed to continue to work are not being impacted. Others who have either completed production or were not willing to deliver non-writing services were suspended.
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The move comes after Universal Studio Group joined other studios early in the strike in suspending most of its deals.
Sources also note that Universal Studio Group’s non-writing producers are among those who are impacted by the latest round of suspensions. The pacts with Michaels (Saturday Night Live and a number of scripted TV shows) and Johnson (prolific in features and films) are among Universal’s most high-profile.
Last week, Channing Dungey’s Warner Bros. Television Group suspended its top producers — Greg Berlanti, J.J. Abrams, Bill Lawrence and Mindy Kaling — after all four had continued to deliver non-writing services. Multiple sources told THR that other studios — namely Universal and Paramount Global — were expected to follow.
Sources note that Seth MacFarlane remains active at UCP while working on the reboot of Ted for Peacock. Sources say procedural king Dick Wolf is also among those who remain active as he has unscripted programming in the works. Other producers at Universal Studio Group who have already been suspended include Tina Fey, Sam Esmail and Mike Schur.
Reps for Universal Studio Group declined to comment.
After Warners suspended its mega-producers, the industry has been bracing for others to follow suit. None of Lionsgate’s deals remain active; and while Sony TV suspended every writer on its roster back in May, it agreed to dole out weekly deals for producing services (the studio still has active non-writing deals as well). One thing that has thus far not happened has been studios outright terminating deals by invoking force majeure clauses; multiple studio and streaming sources told THR last week their deal rosters had already been culled pre-strike.
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