Striking screenwriters win battles, still face war

Mon Jan 7, 2008 9:29pm EST
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By Sue Zeidler

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Striking Hollywood writers won two battles on Monday by making a deal to work for Tom Cruise's film company and wreaking havoc on the Golden Globe Awards, but their labor war against film and TV studios is far from over.

Some experts believe the writers' strategy of making deals with independent producers like Cruise's United Artists will not only fail to divide and conquer Hollywood's big media companies, but serve to strengthen the industry's resolve.

Indeed, immediately after United Artists -- run by Cruise and Chief Executive Paula Wagner -- announced their deal to let striking Writers Guild of America (WGA) members work on films during the strike, UA's parent, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., issued a statement saying it disagreed with UA's decision.

Other members of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents the major film and television studios in talks with the WGA, commented too.

Philippe Dauman, chief executive of Viacom Inc, said deals like United Artists' would "have minimal impact."

"This will only be resolved ultimately by an agreement between the guild and the larger producers collectively," Dauman said.

The roughly 10,500 WGA members struck against the AMPTP in November over issues that included the amount of money writers would earn when their work appeared on the Internet.

Since then, TV shows have ended production, some films have been delayed and several Hollywood awards shows like the Golden Globes have been derailed.   Continued...

<p>Patric Verrone (C), President of Writers Guild of America, West, joins striking writers as they picket in front of NBC studios in Burbank, California January 2, 2008. REUTERS/Phil McCarten</p>