General Hospital hires temporary, non-union writers as show is running out of scripts amid ongoing WGA strike

Posted Wednesday, July 26, 2023 12:37:53 PM
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The ongoing dispute between the Writers Guild of America and producers is about to have an impact on daytime. General Hospital has tapped temporary writers to create new scripts for the show.

For many soap opera fans, the strikes by the Writers Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA are something of an intangible mystery. They've seen news coverage of the strike on television news broadcasts, and they've read explanations here on Soap Central about why the strikes are taking place. But until now, the only direct impact that fans have witnessed has been the delaying of the Daytime Emmys ceremony. The awards ceremony, scheduled to have taken place on June 16, was indefinitely postponed pending the outcome of a resolution between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

As for the striking actors, daytime performers fall under a different contract -- the National Code of Fair Practice for Network Television Broadcasting -- than the movie and television actors that are currently walking the picket lines. That means that soap actors are required to continue working during the strike. That, however, could change when the soap actors' contracts expire in 2024.

But one of the ongoing disputes is about to have an impact on at least one soap directly.

Sources tell Soap Central that General Hospital has just about run out of its pre-strike stockpile of scripts. Unlike nearly every other series in production, soap opera scripts are written months ahead of when those episodes are filmed, and even more so than when those episodes are broadcast.

General Hospital writer Shannon Peace, who is currently on strike as a WGA member, made an Instagram post last week, stating, "my episode that aired Thursday, July 20 was my final until the strike is over... [until then] the show will be penned exclusively by scab writers, which is heartbreaking... Daytime writers face a unique conflict during strikes. We hate to see [our] characters and storylines handed over to 'writers' who cross the picket line. But we're also keenly aware that stopping production could spell the demise of soap operas."

Peace went on to say that "the writing team of GH will be watching alongside fans to see what happens... For the sake of the fans, I hope the show is in capable writing hands."

Exactly who is writing General Hospital at this moment is something of a mystery. A show source tells Soap Central that so-called "fi-core" writers were hired last week to start creating scripts in anticipation of its banked material running out. Fi-core, or "financial core," is a term used for a member that is a "dues paying non-member." These non-members get all the benefits of WGA membership but are not restricted in any way by the WGA. The non-members also cannot vote, sit on the Board, or do any actions restricted to full membership members. Often a reason for going fi-core is due to financial hardship, but not always. These non-members can continue working during a strike.

As previously reported, the WGA has been on strike since May 2 after negotiations with the producer union broke down over key issues like streaming residuals and the use of AI.

Scripts written by GH's non-union writers are expected to be filmed sometime next month. Those episodes would then begin airing sometime in September.

It is unclear if the other three soaps -- CBS' The Bold and the Beautiful and The Young and the Restless, and Peacock's Days of our Lives -- have reached a similar situation.

Requests for comment from the networks have not yet been returned.

How do you feel about temporary writers being brought in to keep General Hospital on the air during the strike? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.

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