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‘The Bear’ Writer: ‘Evil’ Streamers Want Writers ‘Homeless’ Amid WGA Strike

Amid the WGA strike, Alex O’Keefe, a staff writer at “The Bear,” is raising concerns about predatory streaming platforms. Known for speaking out against the purported mistreatment of writers in Hollywood, O’Keefe revealed that he earns a mere $43,000 for his work on the acclaimed FX series featured on Hulu. Despite being one of the seven writers responsible for the Emmy-nominated show, O’Keefe does not receive any streaming residuals.

“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.”

Regarding the ongoing work stoppage, he emphasized, “We must unite and have a say in shaping the future of our industry, but all they [studio executives] are telling us is ‘leave our offices.’ I’m eager to get back to work. Ideally, I hope the strike ends 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 referred to the concurrent WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes as “disruptive” for Hollywood. In response, O’Keefe stated, “Strikes are meant to be disruptive. Capitalists embrace disruptions when they are profitable. Netflix and Disney Plus were market disruptions. Bob Iger is earning a salary. I am not.”

“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.

“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.

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“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?”

In his conversation with The New Yorker, he shared insights from his experience on “The Bear,” stating, “I learned from these masters that, when handed a difficult situation, you can transform it into a Michelin-star-level dish. They consistently faced challenging circumstances.”

Actors Kimiko Glen, Sean Gunn, Mara Wilson, and Jana Schmieding have also recently raised their voices about the issue of low wages in the industry. Despite starring in successful TV shows, they find themselves needing to take on additional jobs to make ends meet.

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