Universal Studios Group Chair Pearlena Igbokwe has said there is determination from all sides to find an “equitable” solution to the Hollywood labor strikes.
The veteran exec, who has helmed the creation of shows such as Dexter and The Blacklist over a three-decade career, took a hopeful tone when questioned about the writers and actors strikes in the U.S. during a session at the Edinburgh TV Festival today.
“I know for a fact the CEOs and top senior leaders are invested and committed to figuring out a deal that is fair and equitable for everybody,” she said. “I got into this business to make TV shows and not to sit around for three months and not do anything. I want us to find that deal that makes everyone happy.”
Despite her comments, the atmosphere in Hollywood remains downbeat, with chances of a deal being done looking bleak at the moment. Deadline reported yesterday that talks between the WGA and AMPTP appear to have broken down again, with the writers union hitting out at the likes of David Zaslav, Ted Sarandos and Bob Iger.
Igbokwe said Hollywood as a whole is at an “inflection point” and streaming and technology changes the industry, and faced “serious and complicated challenges.”
“I love writers and actors and the whole [creative] process, so I am just really hopeful we’re all going to be able to come together and figure out the challenges to our collective industry. We’re all in this ecosystem.”
Igbokwe, who is much respected within the global creative community, offered analysis on how Hollywood has reached its current state, saying: “In the last 10 years we’ve noticed how Hollywood is changing. Technology changes things and we got to a point where the writers and actors clearly felt it wasn’t working for them.
“Right now we’re all sitting down, talking and trying to figure out how it works for everyone. I don’t know if we saw this specific work stoppage coming but we know we were in a period of change.”
During a keynote interview in Edinburgh hosted by presenter and journalist Afua Hirsch, Igbokwe talked about her childhood in Nigeria and the U.S., and how her obsession with television led to a career in the business. She had initially begun as an intern at NBC and later joined Showtime, where she had a 20-year run, before returning 2012 to NBCU. She took on her current post as Chair of Universal Studio Group in 2020.
She urged delegates to ensure the current challenges in the TV market do not stop diverse voices breaking through. “When industry is going through tumult, the people who can be affected are those who were marginalised at the beginning,” she said. “We cannot allow the voices we worked so hard to bring to the fore to be marginalised again. We have to make sure we’re protective over the great diversity of storytelling.”
Returning to the relationship with creatives, she added: “When we’re making these TV shows, the way we work with writers and actors is through trust. We are spending tremendous resources to support their projects; we have input we give them and it is that trust and bond that creates the best shows.
“Hopefully, the temperature calms down a little but so we can get back to the table and remember we are partners. It will get resolved because no one is in Hollywood to not do what we do.”