January 30, 2008 / 12:59 AM / in 10 years

Writers, studios closer to formal talks: report

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hollywood’s striking writers and major studios have narrowed their differences after a week of informal talks, raising hopes that a new contract is within reach, the Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday.

Striking members of the Writers Guild of America, West chant during a rally in Hollywood, California November 20, 2007. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Representatives of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) began meeting last Wednesday for informal discussions in their first face-to-face talks since contract negotiations collapsed on December 7.

The current talks are aimed at laying the groundwork for official bargaining to resume, and both parties have agreed to a media blackout while the negotiations are ongoing.

Some 10,500 WGA writers went on strike in November. Since then, television production of scripted comedies and dramas has ground to a near-halt, films have been delayed and Hollywood’s awards season has been severely curtailed.

In the past week, writers and producers have narrowed the gap between them in key areas including how much writers should earn when films and television shows are distributed over the Internet, the Times reported, citing unnamed sources.

The sources cautioned that the talks could still break down, as they did in early December. They said the parties remain split over how much writers should be paid when their shows are streamed online, and over whether unions should have jurisdiction over original content created for the Internet.

Officials for the WGA and AMPTP declined comment.

Industry sources told Reuters the article was highly speculative, but one added, “they’re still talking and I guess you can say that’s a good sign.”

Reporting by Sue Zeidler, editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Xavier Briand

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