Former President Barack Obama has shifted to the world of entertainment with a production company that has a deal with streaming giant Netflix Inc NFLX. As Obama’s latest limited series hits Netflix, the former president is speaking out against streaming companies.
What Happened: The movie and television industries have been hit with a strike from writers, who want royalties from streaming deals, as their residuals are currently minimal.
Another topic for the ongoing writers’ strike is the use of artificial intelligence such as ChatGPT to write and rewrite scripts and how the credits and royalties would be factored in.
Obama recently spoke out on the writers’ strike and shared his thoughts.
“I know there are many studios and streamers who feel a little bit embattled and there’s been a little bit too much of a glut of product and they’re looking at their bottom line and their experiencing shareholder pressure,” Obama said during a live-streamed interview with Ira Glass on LinkedIn.
Obama called for writers to be compensated and a settlement to be reached, adding that he is supportive of the Writers Guild and a fan of storytelling, as shared by The Hollywood Reporter.
“The fact is, is that they [studios] wouldn’t be around if it weren’t for writers creating the stories that matter.”
The Writers Guild went on strike on May 2 after negotiations with studios and streamers stalled.
“I’m very supportive of the writers and the strike and I’m hopeful that they get a fair share of the fruits of their labor,” Obama said.
Obama noted that the entertainment industry is no exception when it comes to fair wages for all.
“My hope would be that in a time of big technological change, where you’ve got big mega corporations that are doing really well, that they keep in mind the creative people who are actually making the product that consumers appreciate and that gets exported all around the world.”
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Why It’s Important: Obama’s interview came as he is promoting his limited series, “Working: What We Do All Day,” which airs on Netflix.
“Working” was released on Netflix on May 17 and has four episodes around 45 minutes each currently available.
The limited series follows workers in sectors like home care, housekeeping, gig economy (Uber Eats), lobbying and self-driving vehicles with Obama as the host.
“In an ideal world, every job would offer every worker good pay, purpose and a chance to grow. However, the ways in which we earn money and seek out a livelihood are much more complicated, especially when you consider the spiraling inequities many Americans face in the workplace today,” Netflix says of the series.
The series comes from Higher Ground Productions, co-founded by Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama, and Concordia Studio.
“Working” is inspired by the 1974 nonfiction book, “Working: People Talk About Wheat They Do All Day And How They Feel About What They Do.”
The comments from Obama come as many actors have spoken out in support of writers and also taken on streaming companies despite having shows on the platforms. Seth Rogen recently spoke out on the salary of streaming companies’ CEOs ahead of his series launch, “Platonic,” on AppleTV+.
Large names speaking out in support of writers could help drum up additional support.
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