General Hospital and more soap opera writers “face a unique conflict” during the WGA strike as many are being replaced by temporary scribes to keep the genre alive.
“Starting next week, the show will be penned exclusively by scab writers, which is heartbreaking,” General Hospital writer Shannon Peace explained via Instagram on Friday, July 21. “Daytime writers face a unique conflict during strikes.”
Peace, who has been a breakdown writer on the series since 2021, continued: “We hate to see our characters and story lines 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 noted that her Thursday, July 20, General Hospital episode was the last one she wrote before the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) strike began in May. She revealed that beginning on Tuesday, July 25, the full-time writers on the soap opera will no longer have control over what happens to the show’s beloved characters.
“Starting Tuesday, 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,” she continued. “But I have to also acknowledge the pain of knowing that characters we’ve developed, relationships we built and stories we planned are being handled by others.”
Peace added: “Still, my hope is that if you love GH, you’ll continue to watch. You can morally support the writers AND keep the show the air! ??.”
In May, the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) — which is made up of TV writers and film scribes — called for the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) to update their current contracts to better line up with the current media landscape. Some of the union’s demands include better wages and streaming residuals.
Unlike their scripted TV counterparts, soap operas — including General Hospital, Days of Our Lives, The Bold and the Beautiful and The Young and the Restless — don’t have the same rules when it comes to a strike.
Soap opera actors are employed under the SAG-AFTRA National Code of Fair Practice for Network Television Broadcasting a.k.a. Network Code.
According to Deadline, when it comes to soap operas, SAG-AFTRA negotiates with the Big 4 broadcast networks and other producers, not the AMPTP. Their current agreement goes through July 2024.
The Network Code, however, doesn’t extend to the writers. Therefore, the long-running series will move forward with non-WGA member writers who have crossed the picket lines.
Soap operas, however, aren’t the only productions that have been affected by the ongoing WGA strike and the SAG-AFTRA picketing, which began earlier this month.
While most shows have ceased filming — and SAG-AFTRA members have been told they aren’t allowed to promote any projects — several scripted series, including HBO’s House of the Dragon has continued to shoot.
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House of the Dragon, which films in the U.K., is not affected by the strikes because most of its stars are part of the U.K. union Equity. When Calls the Heart, meanwhile, negotiated a SAG-AFTRA interim agreement in July to proceed filming season 10 of the Hallmark Channel hit.