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Kenya Barris & Noah Hawley Set Meeting With WGA Leadership As Showrunners Highlight Solidarity On Picket Line

A group of top-tier showrunners including Kenya Barris and Noah Hawley has set a meeting with the WGA leadership as they try to aid the negotiating process.

The move is not a sign of discontent among the guild, as rumored by some, but rather a chance to bring more high-profile folks into the process as the writers strike has moved into its fourth month.

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We hear that Black-ish creator Barris, Hawley, the man behind FX’s Fargo and its upcoming Alien series, and others are set to sit down with leadership on Friday at the WGA West’s L.A. headquarters.

“This was meant to be an information session and not meant to offer anything more than help,” a source close to events told Deadline. “That is still the intention so we can all get a fair deal to get back to work.”

It comes as a large group of high-powered scribes, including Steve Levitan, Shawn Ryan, Aline Brosh-McKenna, Carlton Cuse, Rene Balcer, Jack Burditt, Mike Scully, Matt Selman, Andy Gordon and David Shore, attended a picket line outside at Fox to show solidarity among showrunners.

Modern Family co-creator Levitan told Deadline that if wants information, he goes to the source. “I have, a few times, called the leadership and gone straight to Chris Keyser, David Goodman and another member of the committee. That’s where I’m getting my information,” he said.

The picket meet-up itself came just over 12 hours after a group of strike captains met with leadership including Chris Keyser and David Goodman to get an update on the negotiations.

The meeting between Barris and Hawley and the guild originally was intended to take place in West Hollywood on Friday, September 8, and then was rescheduled to Monday before it was canceled.

The cancellation was much less dramatic than characterized by some and was in part due to scheduling issues and also as a result of optics. Neither side wanted it to appear that the group was divided, which would play into the AMPTP’s attempts to split the parties, and they mutually agreed to pull the plug before setting a new meeting for the end of this week.

Barris and Hawley both are repped by the recently-sold CAA, which was involved in the background of these conversations. Reps and the WGA declined to comment on this story.

It is one of many discussions that are happening as talks between the writers guild and the studio alliance have hit a standstill.

“Conversations are happening all the time, some more informal that others,” one showrunner told Deadline. “On the picket line, in the grocery store and elsewhere.”

A WGA insider added, “The leadership has always said that if members have concerns or something to say, to reach out, they’ll meet with everyone.”

On the picket line today, The Shield creator Shawn Ryan said that when he was on the negotiating committee during the 2007-08 strike, he had numerous conversations with showrunners who wanted information.

“We understand that the showrunners have a lot of power in the guild and there’s always an effort to keep them informed and get their input,” he told Deadline. “It’s not unusual that showrunners or a group a showrunners would ask for a meeting with the guild to either share ideas or to hear where they’re at. To turn that into, ‘Oh, the guild is getting torn apart’ just isn’t real.”

Ryan, who is also behind The Night Agent and S.W.A.T., said that “anytime you have 15,000 members, or a group of 500 showrunners who are used to controlling their own universe,” it’s not unusual that there will be a difference of opinion.

“One thing I’ve never heard during this work stoppage is people disagreeing with the goals of what we are going for. You are going to have, internally, occasionally, some differences of opinion on the tactics and the best way to get there,” he added. “I’m sure there are some people, some showrunners, who have their own ideas about how to get to where we want to get. But I haven’t heard any dissension about what it is that we want to get to. The vast, vast majority of the membership stands behind the negotiating committee and our leadership team and trust their ability to do it. I think the real story is, what are the divisions within the AMPTP?”

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