Hollywood on verge of deal to end writers strike
By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Negotiators for Hollywood studios and striking writers have agreed to terms of a new contract that could be presented to union leaders in days and, if approved, end their three-month-old labor clash later this week, two sources told Reuters on Monday.
While the outlines of an accord were reached over the weekend, the two sides still need to hammer out contract language before a deal is submitted for approval to the governing boards the East and West Coast branches of the Writers Guild of America, they said.
Those sources, who were briefed on the status of talks but were not authorized to speak publicly about them under a media blackout, said negotiators hoped action by the WGA boards on a deal could come as early as Friday.
An endorsement by WGA leaders presumably would be accompanied by a decision to call off the strike, but if the WGA boards were divided, the walkout might continue pending a ratification vote by rank-and-file members.
One source said the big breakthrough in the latest round of talks, which began January 23, came on the key sticking point of how much writers should be paid for advertising-supported Internet "streaming" of television shows.
That source also characterized the writers' agreement in principle as an improvement over the terms of an earlier, separate contract deal for Hollywood directors that helped pave the way for studios and the WGA to resume bargaining after weeks of stalemate.
"They reached agreement on the major terms, and now its a question of reducing it to (contract) language, which we're all hoping goes well and continues in the same spirit of progress that the talks have experienced so far," he said.
He cautioned, however, that the process of translating a deal into contract language has led to snags in previous labor negotiations. Continued...