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The Web Team

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Hollywood writers poised to strike
« on: November 05, 2007, 07:36:14 AM »
It's uncertain whether a last-minute meeting on Sunday with a federal mediator has forestalled a strike by Hollywood writers that would halt a majority of production in television and film.

Mediator Juan Carlos Gonzalez had asked for a meeting between the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP) in a last-ditch effort to halt a strike. The writers' three-year contract expired on Oct. 31.

By 2:00 p.m. PT, there was still no word from the negotiations.

Union members voted for a strike that would begin at 12:01 a.m. PT on Monday.

Both sides were making preparations for a walkout. Some 300 strike captains met at the guild's Los Angeles building over the weekend to organize their pickets.

"People are pretty united," Steven Skrovan, writer for the TV comedy 'Til Death, told the Los Angeles Times newspaper. "This is the time in history that a stand has to be made."

Guild members have been asked to sign up for their four-hour shifts.

The ABC network has already distributed a letter detailing how a writer can resign from the union in order to keep working through a strike.

"The law protects both the right to work as well as the right to strike. We thought it fair that employees be fully informed," said an ABC statement released Friday.

Contract negotiations began in July but the two sides have remained far apart. Talks broke down over residuals that writers would get paid for material appearing on DVDs, the internet, cellphones and other devices.

The studios have said new media remains in an experimental stage for them and that revenues aren't that high given rising production costs and increased piracy.

The union contends studios are deliberately minimizing the growth of digital media. They say film and TV are migrating toward the internet and wireless platforms and writers want a bigger share of that revenue.
$1 billion at stake for L.A.

The last major strike by Hollywood writers was in 1988 and lasted 22 weeks. The impact of a strike on the Los Angeles economy is expected to reach as high as $1 billion.

Late-night talk shows —The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart  — would be the first affected by a walkout, since they rely on up-to-date writing of topical jokes.

Next up would be daytime shows such as The View or soap operas, which are often done a week in advance but would soon run out of scripts.

Many television shows say they have stockpiled scripts which could take them into January and February. Primetime schedules would gradually become filled by reruns and game shows.

Film studios would be one of the last affected as they have a large supply of screenplays through 2008.

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