Monday, November 05, 2007

[olympiaworkers] Hollywood writers announce strike

Hollywood writers announce strike

By GARY GENTILE, AP Business Nov. 5, 2007

LOS ANGELES - Hollywood writers will strike after last-ditch talks called
by a federal mediator failed.

Writers and studios broke off talks late Sunday after East Coast members
of the writers union declared they were officially on strike, the group
representing producers said.

Last-ditch negotiations between the Writers Guild of America and the
Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers ended after about 11

Producers said writers refused a request to "stop the clock" on a planned
strike while talks continued.

"It is unfortunate that they choose to take this irresponsible action,"
producers said in a statement.

Producers said writers were not willing to compromise on their major demands.

The writers union confirmed that talks had ended and that members would
strike, but did not have any further comment.

The guild earlier announced sweeping plans to picket every major studio in
Los Angeles, along with Rockefeller Center in New York, where NBC is

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers previously called
a writers' strike "precipitous and irresponsible."

The guilds had been preparing for these negotiations for years, hiring
staff with extensive labor union experience, and developing joint
strategies and a harder line than producers have seen in decades.

"We haven't shown particular resolve in past negotiations," said John
Bowman, the WGA's chief negotiator.

"The sea change is that this is an enormously galvanizing issue and two,
that the new regime at the guild actually has a plan, has an organization
and a structure to respond to something."

The writers are the first union to bargain for a new deal this year. Their
contract expired Wednesday.

In past years, actors have almost always gone first, although the
Directors Guild of America, which is seen as the least aggressive of the
three guilds, has sometimes taken the lead. Whatever deal was struck first
was usually accepted by the others.

The guilds are aware that if writers fail to win concessions involving
DVDs and the Internet, actors may have to take up the fight.

"This is an issue that touches every member of this guild and every member
of the Screen Actors Guild as well," said Carlton Cuse, executive producer
of the ABC drama "Lost."

Consumers are expected to spend $16.4 billion on DVDs this year, according
to Adams Media Research.

By contrast, studios could generate only $158 million from selling movies
online and about $194 million from selling TV shows over the Web, although
those numbers are expected to skyrocket in coming years.

Writers only get about 3 cents on a typical DVD retailing for $20.

Studios argue that it is too early to know how much money they can make
from offering entertainment on the Internet, cell phones, iPods and other

Hollywood unions have long regretted a decision made in 1984 to accept a
small percentage of home video sales because studios said the technology
was untested and that costs were high.

The guilds have tried and failed for two decades to increase video
payments, even as DVDs have become more profitable for studios than box
office receipts.

The first casualty of the strike would be late-night talk shows, which are
dependent on current events to fuel monologues and other entertainment.

Daytime TV, including live talk shows such as "The View" and soap operas,
which typically tape about a week's worth of shows in advance, would be
next to feel the impact.

The strike will not immediately impact production of movies or prime-time
TV programs. Most studios have stockpiled dozens of movie scripts, and TV
shows have enough scripts or completed shows in hand to last until early
next year.

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