TV writer from Minnesota: Use of AI jeopardizes jobs

Entertainment industry shutdown could have impacts on Minnesota economy

Entertainment industry shutdown could have impacts on Minnesota economy

Janae Bakken was born and raised in White Bear Lake. She is now a successful writer for television entertainment shows and lives in Los Angeles.

Bakken told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the current writers’ strike, along with the actors who’ve now joined the picket lines, is about wages, residual pay from shows airing on streaming services and the use of artificial intelligence — which Bakken said could eliminate jobs for some writers and actors in the future.

“For writers, it’s about a computer writing scripts for us and then we would be brought in to just edit it and maybe make it sound more American, or whatever,” said Bakken. “But the truth is that computer is writing the scripts from scripts found online, and it’s stealing scripts from our scripts. It’s also stealing ideas.”

Bakken wrote episodes for the popular network television show “Scrubs”.

She says residual payments for younger writers working on shows for streaming services are far less than what they should be compared to writers like herself who enjoy residuals from network television shows.

“Residuals at, like, Netflix and Amazon is not paying what I would get if ‘Scrubs’ re-aired on ABC,” Bakken said. “And, frankly, if ‘Scrubs’ re-airs on a streaming service, they have to pay me more for that show than they would, say, for ‘Ted Lasso.'”

Melodie Bahan, executive director of Minnesota Film and TV, says with actors now joining writers on the picket line, production of films coming to Minnesota or currently being shot are effectively put on hold. That means millions of dollars headed for the state will have to wait until the labor disputes are settled.

“We’ve had a couple of, you know, small feature films that were slated to start this summer that we will have to delay,” Bahan said.

Bahan said film crew members, businesses and even cities with site locations lose out on a lot of revenue and jobs.

“The state invested a historic amount in our incentive program just this past legislative session,
she said. “So Minnesota now is really competitive with other states.”