Warner Bros. Discovery on Wednesday suspended deals with some of the most high-profile writers in the television industry, including Mindy Kaling, "Lost" co-creator J.J. Abrams and "Ted Lasso" co-creator Bill Lawrence, a studio source said.
The Writers Guild of America strike is entering its fifth month — with no end in sight. Hollywood's scribes and major studios, such as Warner Bros., are locked in a battle over wages and other issues, including protections against the use of artificial intelligence.
Warner Bros. is halting payments to the A-list writers for the duration of the strike, people briefed on the matter told The New York Times. NBC News has not independently verified that information.
Kaling, a comedian and actor best known for her role on NBC's "The Office," co-created the comedy series "The Sex Lives of College Girls" and the animated series "Velma," two shows that are distributed on Max, Warner Bros. Discovery's marquee streaming platform. Abrams co-created the Max crime thriller "Duster," which was still in production when the strikes effectively shut down the industry.
Lawrence's shows "Ted Lasso" and "Shrinking," which stream on Apple TV+, are both co-produced by Warner Bros. Television.
The film and television industry's writers have been on strike since early May. The industry's actors, largely represented by SAG-AFTRA, joined writers on the picket lines in July, the first time both unions have been on strike simultaneously in 63 years. The leaders of both unions argue that the rise of streaming has economically disadvantaged their members.
Representatives for the WGA, SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday. Neither did representatives for Kaling, Abrams and Lawrence.
Warner Bros. Discovery said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing this week that the it assumes that it will be "negatively impacted" by the dual strikes to the tune of up to $500 million.
"WBD is hopeful that these strikes will be resolved soon," the company said in the filing," but "it cannot predict when the strikes will ultimately end. ... The Company now assumes the financial impact to WBD of these strikes will persist through the end of 2023."
Warner Bros. Discovery's portfolio includes the Warner Bros. Pictures movie studio, the Max streaming service and cable channels such as CNN, TBS, TNT and Turner Classic Movies.