“The Bear” staff writer Alex O’Keefe is calling out predatory streaming platforms amid the WGA strike.
O’Keefe, who has been vocal about the alleged mistreatment of writers across Hollywood, shared that his salary is $43,000 for penning the original FX series on Hulu. O’Keefe is one of the seven writers behind the Emmy-nominated series and does not receive streaming residuals.
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“As a staff writer, you’re writing and revising for everyone but there’s no residuals on Hulu because it’s streaming,” O’Keefe told The New York Post. “That’s a huge injustice.”
He added about the ongoing work stoppage, “We need to come together and co-determine the future of our industry, but what they’re [studio executives] are saying is ‘get the hell out of our office.’ I want to get back to work. I would like it [the strike] to end this week.”
However, O’Keefe alleged that studio executives’ “strategy is to make me homeless” as a union writer.
“They publicly say it’s a necessary evil. They publicly say they are evil, so what do you think they say privately at the bargaining table?” O’Keefe said about the failed union negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. “It’s sick, vile, and disgusting.”
Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger recently called the simultaneous WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes “disruptive” to Hollywood, to which O’Keefe has now responded, “Strikes are supposed to be distruptions. Capitalists love disruptions when it makes them money. Netflix and Disney Plus were disruptions to the market. Bob Iger is making a salary. I am not.”
O’Keefe previously shared in a Twitter thread from April 2023 that he was “still broke” while working on “The Bear.”
“The studio wouldn’t fly me out to the writers room in LA, so I worked from my Brooklyn apartment. My heat was out that pandemic winter, my space heater blew out the lights. I worked on episode 8 from a library,” he tweeted. “All I can say about Hollywood is this: all that glitters is not gold. I won the lottery, and landed a gig on a low-budget show that became a national sensation. ‘The Bear; was a gift, but in the end, ‘The Bear’ was a gig. And between gigs, I barely survive.”
O’Keefe explained, “98 percent of staff writers work for the minimum. We don’t receive residuals based on the success of our streaming shows. We don’t have a way to stay afloat between gigs, and every gig feels like a miracle. Without a strong union, we have no safety net. The professional writer is going extinct. Newspapers are dying, provocative new media has been replaced by sponsored content, and AI seeks to sterilize all creativity. Will screenwriting be a gig, or will it be a career?”
He additionally told The New Yorker that from “The Bear,” he “learned from these masters that, if you are given a shit sandwich, you can dress that up and make it a Michelin-star-level dish. And they were consistently given shit sandwich after shit sandwich.”
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