The Writers Revolt (UPDATE) : Planet Money We have a winner in an epic Hollywood story. A couple years back, 7,000 TV writers across the U.S. fired their agents. All on the same day. It was part of a battle over how creative work gets valued and compensated in TV and film. Now, we have the dramatic resolution. | Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.

The Writers Revolt (UPDATE)

The Writers Revolt (UPDATE)

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CENTURY CITY, CA - NOVEMBER 09: Picketers march during a strike held by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) outside Fox Studios on November 9, 2007 in Century City, California. Over 12,000 members of the WGA are on strike against producers and studios demanding for a greater share of new media revenue. (Photo by Noel Vasquez/Getty Images)
Noel Vasquez/Getty Images

Note: This episode originally ran in 2019 and comes with an update.

In Hollywood, "packaging" has been a longstanding industry practice: A talent agency assembles a group of clients--such as a writer, an actor, and a director--and pitches them all together to a studio or network. Then, instead of collecting a commission from its individual clients, the agency gets a fee from the studio once the project is sold and airs.

David Simon, creator of The Wire, and other screenwriters, say that's killed the incentive for their agents to negotiate on their behalf. He thinks the agents are grabbing more than their fair share of the profits. So, in April 2019, 7,000 writers all over the U.S. fired all of their agents, all on the same day.

A standoff ensued.

Then the pandemic happened and tipped the balance.

Today on the show, we look back at the writers' strike and get the dramatic resolution to a Hollywood fight scene.

Music: "Death Over Dinner," "Smoke And Mirrors," "Stroll Along The Seine," and "Uncle Bill."

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Correction April 22, 2021

A previous version of this story referred to HBO's newest streaming service as HBO Now. The name of that service is HBO Max.