WGA Thinks Different: Striking Scribes Target Apple Stores & HQ For Monday Protests

Business

The Writers Guild wants to take a bite out of Apple.

Deadline has confirmed that the guild plans to bring its monthlong strike to the front door of streamer Apple TV+ on Monday. In a deft move, the WGA action at Apple HQ in Cupertino, CA, dovetails with the kickoff of the Tim Cook-led company’s 2023 Worldwide Developers Conference on June 5.

The Apple action first was revealed Friday afternoon in a tweet from the AFL-CIO:

The WGA and other supporting unions also are planning protests at Apple stores in Philly, D.C., NYC, L.A. and more, sources tell me. In an important distinction, the Writers Guild and its allies will be handing out leaflets at the various Apple outlets and location, not picketing.

Renowned for its product launches and pivots, the tech giant’s annual weeklong shindig this year is expected to highlight Apple’s upcoming mixed-reality headset, along with a livestreamed keynote from CEO Cook at 10 a.m. PT Monday.

With the exception of the May 21 protests and jeers against Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav’s Boston University commencement speech, the Cupertino action is a rare departure for the WGA from the more traditional picket lines approach since the strike began on May 2. While the Guild has been in front of the studios’ gates daily and has held a number of rallies in both NYC and LA in the past weeks, as well as targeting the likes of broadcasters’ scaled-down upfronts, disruption of production on series and films has been the most visible and successful form of direct action so far.

That could change now with the high-profile move against the home of Ted Lasso and Best Picture Oscar winner CODA.

The shuttering of the late-night shows aside, consumers have yet to feel much of a blast radius from the WGA strike on their day-to-day viewing routines as networks and streamers continue to draw from their completed series and inventories. However, targeting the tech giant on home turf could refocus the public’s attention on the Hollywood labor dispute.

With an estimated 26 million subscribers, the Zack Van Amburg- and Jamie Erlicht-run Apple TV+ is a small part of the $2.8 trillion market-valued company’s business. Despite the massive allure its multitude of products obviously have, with the global audience Apple’s annual conference attracts, the PR-sensitive Cook and his top brass are likely to feel the sting of greater scrutiny more than the conventional Tinseltown studios.

Seemingly growing more comfortable with his media-mogul moniker, Cook was on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival last month for the premiere of the Martin Scorsese-directed Killers of the Flower Moon. The film starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Lily Gladstone and Robert De Niro will be released in cinemas on October 20 via Paramount, before heading to an exclusive perch on three-year-old Apple TV+ later in a unique arrangement between the studio and the streamer.

Action against Apple by the WGA also comes as the scribes’ strike heads into its second month — with no return to talks with the studios and streamers scheduled. Since pickets went up on May 2 after weeks of negotiations with the AMPTP proved fruitless, the WGA has said all along that they are willing to sit down again with the studios and streamers.

However, the AMPTP, which just clinched a tentative deal with the Directors Guild late Saturday night, has not proven receptive to the WGA’s standing offer.

Awaiting ratification on the DGA deal, the studios and streamers are set to start negotiations with SAG-ACTRA on June 7. Like the DGA, the current contract for actors’ union, who are expected to announce the results of their strike authorization vote this week, expires on June 30.

Erik Pedersen contributed to this report.

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