Striking writers, studios head for renewed talks

Tue Jan 22, 2008 6:48pm EST
 
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Striking Hollywood writers will meet face to face with studio executives this week for the first time since their contract talks collapsed on December 7, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

Studio chiefs and leaders of the Writers Guild of America planned to open informal discussions late Tuesday or Wednesday aimed at sketching the broad outlines of a possible settlement of the strike, now in its 12th week, the sources said.

News Corp. President Peter Chernin and Walt Disney Co. President Robert Iger were expected to take the lead in those talks for management, as they did in unofficial discussions that paved the way for last week's deal between the studios and the Directors Guild of America.

Some 10,500 screenwriters walked off the job on November 5, shattering 20 years of Hollywood labor peace and throwing the U.S. television industry into disarray, derailing movie productions and overshadowing the year-end awards season.

In the case of the Directors Guild, union leaders held about two weeks of informal conversations with studio executives before the two sides started official bargaining on January 12.

The deal they announced in six days included provisions to pay union members more for work distributed over the Internet -- a key sticking point in stalled contract talks with the writers.

It remained to be seen whether the writers regard the directors' three-year labor pact as a template for their own deal. The WGA said it was still reviewing the directors' contract.

But the writers and studios were at least, after months of failed on-and-off bargaining, emulating a negotiating model used by the directors.   Continued...

 
<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. Striking Hollywood writers will meet face to face with studio executives this week for the first time since their contract talks collapsed on December 7, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>