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Hollywood strikes taking a toll on California's economy

Los Angeles — Hollywood scribes met with studio executives Friday for the first time since the Writer's Guild of America went on strike just over three months ago.

The more than 11,000 film and television writers that make up the WGA have been on strike since early May. In mid-July, they were joined on the picket lines by the approximately 65,000 actors in the Screen Actors Guild–American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, SAG-AFTRA, a move that has shuttered nearly all scripted Hollywood production.

It marks the first time since 1960 that both guilds have been on strike simultaneously. The economic impact has been especially heightened in California, where film and television production accounts for more than 700,000 jobs and nearly $70 billion a year in wages, according to the California Film Commission.

"We are really fighting for the rights of the people who are working and living in the city," Burbank Mayor Konstantine Anthony told CBS News. "And that's really who I represent. I didn't get voted in by studios."

Anthony is also an actor along with being mayor of Burbank, which is home to several studios, including Disney and Warner Bros.

"If people aren't coming to work, if people are on strike, they're not spending money at their local grocery store," Anthony said. "All of those secondary industries are greatly affected by the loss of that income." 

That includes Alex Uceda's catering company, which feeds Hollywood production crews.  

"At the end of last year, we were working like 10, 11 jobs every day," Uceda said. "It drops to maybe one or two jobs now."

Uceda, who estimates he has lost about 70% of his business in that time, has had to lay off nearly half his employees since the WGA strike began.

Several big stars — including the likes of Oprah, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep and Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson — have each made donations of $1 million or more to the SAG-AFTRA's financial assistance program.

"I beg all the people from the studio, please, please make it happen, you know, for the good of everyone," Uceda said. 

Both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA are negotiating separately with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the group that represents all the major Hollywood studios. Among the most hotly-contested issues for both groups are residuals from streaming services and the use of artificial intelligence.

Earlier this week, the WGA informed its members that Carol Lombardini, AMPTP president, had reached out and "requested" Friday's meeting "to discuss negotiations."

"I think it's hopeful, because it's been crickets, it's been silent for a long time," SAG-AFTRA member Chad Coe told CBS News of Friday's meeting. 

Paramount Pictures, one of the studios involved in the negotiations, and CBS News are both part of Paramount Global. Some CBS News staff are SAG-AFTRA or Writers Guild members, but their contracts are not affected by the strikes.

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