"Madame, bear in mind That princes govern all things--save the wind." -Victor Hugo, The Infanta's Rose

Monday, January 21, 2008

End could be in sight for TV writer's strike

Encouraging news for TV fans over the weekend: the Director's Guild of America (DGA) has reached a tentative agreement with the studio conglomerates (AMPTP). The new terms set residuals on so-called "new media" which almost double the previous rates. While the striking Writers Guild (WGA) is a separate entity from the director's association, it has been widely speculated that any deal with the studios achieved by the DGA would serve as a template for the writers to reach a similar settlement.

The leadership of the Writer's Guild is closely examining the DGA deal, but issued a public statement today that I thought was a bit provocative, containing this less-than-conciliatory remark: "For over a month, we have been urging the conglomerates to return to the table and bargain in good faith. They have chosen to negotiate with the DGA instead."

Nevertheless, most rank-and-file members are optimistic about the terms of the DGA's contract. Noted director Oliver Stone said, "I've read the bullet points, and it is a step in the right direction, it shows that agreement is possible, and it brings a spirit of hope that hopefully will extend to the WGA and the AMPTP. If it is not taken in that spirit, that would be most unfortunate." Many Hollywood notables attending this week's Sundance Film Festival in Park City, UT, are also eager to go back to work. "I'm very pleased with the new [DGA] agreement and I hope it helps speed up the negotiations with the WGA," actor George Clooney said in a statement.

Talks between the writers and the studios, which have been at an impasse for weeks, could resume as early as tomorrow, according to Variety magazine. However, don't look for your favorite shows from before the strike to reappear any time soon. There has been much bad blood generated on both sides by the walkout, so it's likely that several more weeks of negotiations could pass before any agreement is hammered out. Also, the delay involved in ramping up the studios to begin production (even assuming that the writers already have scripts in their laptops that they've been withholding due to the strike) could be lengthy. Still, it looks like progress is finally being made.


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