Hollywood on edge as striking writers set meetings

Fri Feb 8, 2008 2:43am EST
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By Carl DiOrio

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - With an entire industry eyeing a pair of Writers Guild of America meetings Saturday, everybody and their (out of work) brother wants to know when the picket lines will come down and the union's three-month-old strike will end.

There also are these questions to consider:

- Will WGA leaders actually recommend that members accept a tentative agreement from the studios, or simply detail possible terms and gauge the reaction?

- If terms appear sweeter than those in the recent Directors Guild of America contract deal with the studios -- which is now out for a ratification vote -- will that put the DGA pact in peril?

- Will leaders of the militant Writers Guild of America slap their foreheads upon hearing news of a writers deal and declare, "Now that's a deal we could embrace!" Or not?

"The WGA members have got to know -- and I think this will be conveyed on Saturday -- that negotiations are not a shopping spree, and you don't get everything you want," said Jonathan Handel, a former WGA attorney. "But they can also tell the members that the DGA deal wouldn't have been as good as it was without the writers strike, which I believe is true. And they can also say they've managed to get some improvements in those terms."

Labor and management attorneys have been crafting language of a possible tentative agreement between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers, the bargaining arm of the studios, following up on earlier informal talks between top studio executives and guild brass. A media blackout has kept industry figures from knowing much about what's been hammered out behind closed doors this week, but here's what bears on each of the key questions:


<p>Picketers from the Writers Guild Of America demonstrate in front of the studio where "The Daily Show" is filmed in New York, January 7, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>