As studios and Hollywood talent scuffle, a door is wide open. Could you walk through it?

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As studios and Hollywood talent scuffle, a door is wide open. Could you walk through it?

Are you ready for your close up?


For the first time since 1960, America’s actors’ and screenwriters’ unions are simultaneously on strike. Hollywood is at a standstill.

The rationale behind the labor stoppage is straightforward: streaming services like Netflix, Max, and Paramount Plus have upended the entertainment industry’s economics.

Streamers tend to “buy out” the acting and writing talent that create their shows, paying people a flat fee for their work, and declining to offer future payouts for reruns.

That’s new. Generations of Hollywood creative professionals have used those indefinite “residual payments” to support themselves in between projects.


At the same time, streamers (and cable networks) tend to green light fewer episodes/commission shorter seasons than traditional tv networks.

Network shows like Modern Family or Parks and Rec have tended to feature 22 episodes a season.

Cable television hits like Atlanta, Dave, or Yellowstone, by contrast, feature 10 episodes a season.

And streaming shows are usually shorter still. The most recent seasons of Stranger Things, Wednesday, and Bridgerton —all recent Netflix hitsran for just 8 episodes each.

Shorter seasons mean fewer working days —and less pay— for actors and writers.


And then, of course, there’s nervousness around AI.

Screenwriters are concerned that generative AI will be used to write scripts, and that only be hired to polish those robot-written screenplays, resulting —again— in shorter term work periods, and less pay.

Actors, meanwhile are concerned that AI could be used to realistically replicate their likenesses, putting them out of a job forever.

In short, streamers and AI are disrupting Hollywood’s basic assumptions and longstanding economics —and human talent aren’t standing for that.

But shakeups tend to spark opportunity.


As this newsletter has written, social media is a different beast than it was even just a couple of years ago.

Platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and even LinkedIn have transitioned from connection tools to discovery and entertainment engines.

That shift is profound. Users may complain that they don’t get served enough content from the people they actually follow, but their actions tell a different story.

We’re all scrolling more than ever. The platforms’ algorithms now boost the content they consider the most likely to engage, serving it to vast audiences, regardless of whether or not they follow the creators.

In our view, this shift —combined with Hollywood’s stoppage— has created a rare chance for new creative voices and ideas to emerge (and for existing Hollywood professionals to find audiences without studio middlemen).

Could a new cohort of original voices rise during Hollywood's idle time?


For years, anyone with a phone and a connection could share their voice.

What’s new is that the algorithms are ready to serve novice creators’ content out to millions of potential viewers.

At the same time, the rise of AI creation tools mean that passionate amateurs with just an inkling of a creative impulse can now produce slick content.

Building real audiences and income has always been hard, time consuming work. But zoom out: social media is more democratic —if also more random— than ever.

And people are watching. In the UK, TikTok has replaced television as the country’s most popular entertainment medium for young adults. Meanwhile, “95% of US teens watch YouTube —many of them ‘almost constantly.’”


For the first time ever, (i) Hollywood's storytellers are idle, while (ii) algorithms elevate ordinary voices to extraordinary numbers of people, and (iii) free AI creation tools are open to anything.

One day (not soon) Hollywood casts and crews will reassemble and attempt to regain control of audience attention.

Until then, as professionals clash over business models, an historic opportunity awaits.


All this might not sound relevant to you.

It is.

In our view, countless fresh comedic minds, unknown numbers of storytellers, and an entire generation of cerebral visionaries ready to change perceptions are reading this note right now.

If you’ve ever had any hint of a creative impulse, there has literally never been a better time in human history for you to act on it than right now.

Life offers no guarantees —except that windows of opportunity are fleeting.

Start posting today.


TikTok replaced TV for British young adults; 95% of US teens watch YouTube »»

It’s TikTok’s world. Can TV live in it? (from 2022) »»

Written by Jon Kallus. Any feedback? Simply reply. Like this? Share it!

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