WGA West’s Ex-Chief Negotiator David Young Is Behind-the-Scenes Force as Strike Talks Near Close

The Writers Guild of America West’s former chief negotiator David Young has been pulling the strings on negotiations with the Hollywood studios, Hollywood showrunners said in a private text group.

According to a text shared on Friday night in a 500-member WhatsApp group of showrunners: “Turns out the WGA negotiating committee calls David and runs everything by him.”

The text went on to say that on Thursday night, the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers had agreed to a deal — but Young told them to go back and “ask for those other two points and ‘squeeze their nuts the same way we did the agents.'”

The text continued, “That’s what happened and that’s who’s been behind the scenes this entire time, hence why it’s taking so long.”

The WGA did not respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

Young left due to what was described as a medical leave of absence, and Ellen Stutzman took his place as chief negotiator when talks between the WGA and the AMPTP began.

The text said the deal is “on the one-yard line” and expected by Sunday evening “or earlier.”

Young has been with the WGA for almost two decades and drove a hard bargain with Hollywood agencies to end packaging fees in 2021.

The text alleges that Young did not actually step down due to a medical issue, but TheWrap has been unable to verify the reason given and has blacked it out of the text below. The text also says The Hollywood Reporter’s Kim Masters has the story, but Masters said on X she hasn’t “made a single call” about the story.

A text in a showrunners WhatsApp group
A text shared in a large showrunners WhatsApp group says David Young has been steering WGA negotiations

Negotiations between the WGA and AMPTP have progressed intensely over the past few days. The two groups reconvened on Saturday to hash out two final points regarding artificial intelligence protections and minimum staffing.

Hollywood has been at a standstill as the writers were joined by SAG-AFTRA on the picket lines in July. Both unions are pushing for new deals that reflect the changed entertainment landscape after the rise of streaming.

Four studio CEOs — Disney’s Bob Iger, NBCUniversal’s Donna Langley, Netflix’s Ted Sarandos and Warner Bros. Discovery’s David Zaslav — have been present throughout the negotiations at the AMPTP’s Sherman Oaks headquarters.

The contents of the text were first reported by The Ankler.

Sharon Waxman contributed to this report.

For all of TheWrap’s WGA strike coverage, read here.

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