Former TV Executive Paul Chato Weighs In On Writers Strike: “It Would Be Business Insanity To Negotiate Away The Option Of Scripts Generated By AI”

Paul Chato via Call Me Chato YouTube

Former CBC Television Executive Paul Chato recently shared his thoughts on the ongoing Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike and how he believes the union and its members will lose when it comes to AI generated scripts.

(L-R): Princess Leia Organa (Vivien Lyra Blair) and Reva (Moses Ingram) in Lucasfilm’s OBI-WAN KENOBI, exclusively on Disney+. © 2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.

The Writers Guild of America’s official website notes that one of the reasons they are striking is artificial intelligence. The Writers Guild claims as part of their deal they want to “regulate use of artificial intelligence on MBA-covered projects; AI can’t write or rewrite literary material; can’t be used as source material; and MBA-covered material can’t be used to train AI.”

In response the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers countered “by offering annual meetings to discuss advancement in technology.”

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In a recent video upload, Chato noted the WGA will more than likely lose this demand as part of their negotiations.

He stated, “First of all, If I were a studio head it would be business insanity to negotiate away the option of using scripts generated by AI.”

He went on to explain, “I’m a creative. I write scripts. No, I’m not a traitor. Why would I be saying this? I’m putting myself in the position of the studios. I don’t see how the WGA will be able to win this and I hate to say it, but it’s partially the fault of the quality of programs that are being produced now.

“Now, I’m not blaming the writers or the producers or both, but The Hollywood Reporter has a story where it asked ChatGPT to write a 30 Rock script. And to all my fellow writers, I hate to tell you, it had the shape and sound of a 30 Rock script. What it was missing were lines specifically crafted to the character and jokes,” he elaborated. “Now, you’re saying, ‘Okay, now that’s the whole thing.’ But I didn’t find 30 Rock particularly funny. But based on the sample presented I could easily see a ChatGPT drama or action-adventure script, which doesn’t need jokes. Which would then be massaged by the head writer. Maybe there will be a whole new category: AI Wrangler. Scary times.”

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: (L-R) JD Payne, Lindsey Weber and Patrick McKay attends “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” World Premiere at Odeon Luxe Leicester Square on August 30, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images for Prime Video)

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He continued, “Amazon’s Citadel is dreadful. Could ChatGPT have written something just as bad? Quite likely. If the show becomes a hit because the audience’s standards have become so depressed due to the truckload of second rate dialogue and plots that they are being fed then why not go AI?”

Chato then provided another example, “Another example would be the much maligned counterfeit Tolkien adventure Rings of Power. I asked ChatGPT to generate a scene where Bilbo and Gollum became friends. I know Rings of Power can’t use them, bear with me. It actually made sense. It was even clever enough to have Gollum tell Bilbo, ‘I’ll be your friend if you give me my precious back.'”

“ChatGPT knew the lore. Certainly better than the hack writers on Rings of Power,’ he added.

Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) draws her blades against two upstart warriors in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Season 1 Episode 5 "Parting" (2022), Amazon Studios

Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) draws her blades against two upstart warriors in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Season 1 Episode 5 “Parting” (2022), Amazon Studios

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“And think about this: new writers are bereft of historical knowledge like never before,” he points out. “Producers could ask for a script written in the style of the Blackboard Jungle and AI would crank it out in the time it took your Gen Z writer to ask, ‘What’s the Blackboard Jungle?'”

“As I said earlier, if AI takes a foothold in the scripting realm it’s going to be because of some of the terrible shows we are seeing now. And for its ability to research historical instantly. For network series it would be even worse. If a season was already produced and the AI was pointed at it and told to write a new season based on the first with a bunch of new plots.”

Glenn Ford as Richard Dadier in Blackboard Jungle (1955), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

However, he does note there is any area where AI will never succeed, “Where AI will never succeed, at least not anytime soon, is the first idea of fantastic imagination. There will always be a need for that. Unless, of course, the audience prefers the repetitive results of AI. What’s more repetitive than a procedural?”

“Honestly, if I have to write something that involved a World War II Caproni Italian bomber on the Hungarian and Russian front, I would let AI take the first stab and then crib the research it provided,” he admitted. “Who in their right mind would not want that kind of help?”

He would go on to conclude his video pointing to another example of a show that would probably do better with AI, “If [AI] would put the writers of She-Hulk out of work, I’d be up for that.”

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law Season 1 Episode 9 “Whose Show Is This?” (2022), Marvel Entertainment

What do you make of Chato’s analysis on the WGA’s strike demand to regulate AI?

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