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Writer's Guild Of America Goes On Strike


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'Daily Show,' 'Colbert Report' Returning

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert will return to production in January without their writers

December 21, 2007

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Stephen Colbert

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are joining the rush of late night funnymen returning to are in the new year.

Comedy Central's "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" and "The Colbert Report" are the latest late night shows to announce that they'll return to air in January, albeit without their striking writing staffs.

"'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart' and 'The Colbert Report' will resume production on January 7 with both shows returning to air that night without their respective writing staffs," a Comedy Central press release explains. "The January 7 return follows a scheduled two-week, end-of-year hiatus that was previously built into the shows' production calendars. We continue to hold out hope for a swift resolution to the current stalemate that will enable the shows to be complete again."

While both shows will be returning to production on Jan. 7, nobody seems to know what they're going to do to fill their half-hour time slot. Both shows feature opening monologues which, for example, probably won't be up to WGA striking standards even if both Colbert and Stewart -- both Emmy-winning WGA members -- ad-lib their regular political observations. Interview segments are far more likely to be considered kosher.

"We would like to return to work with our writers," Stewart and Colbert said in a joint statement. "If we cannot, we would like to express our ambivalence, but without our writers we are unable to express something as nuanced as ambivalence"

Comedy Central confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that "Daily Show" correspondents, including John Oliver and Samantha Bee, are likely to return to work in some capacity. "The Daily Show" would seem to have an advantage over "The Colbert Report" in that Colbert's persona is more clearly scripted and is central to more recurring segments.

The Comedy Central duo won't be the only late night shows navigating this uncertain landscape in the new year. Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Kimmel will all be returning without their writers in early January. CBS' David Letterman and Craig Ferguson will do the same unless Letterman's independent Worldwide Pants banner reaches an interim agreement with the WGA.

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Courtesy of: TV GUIDE, TV GUIDE EDITORS BLOG, STRIKE WATCH

Stewart and Colbert Return, But WGA Isn't Laughing

Some fans of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report may be thrilled to have fresh fare heading their way starting Jan. 7, but the WGA sees nothing funny about this latest batch of late-nighters to resume production. In a statement issued hours after Comedy Central made its announcement, the WGA said, "[F]orcing Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert back on the air will not give the viewers the quality shows they've come to expect. The only way to get the writing staffs back on the job is for the AMPTP companies to come back to the table prepared to negotiate a fair deal with the Writers Guild."

What's your take? Is the truthiness of the matter that late-night hosts returning to work, though commendable in that it gets crew members' paychecks flowing again, undermines the WGA's case?

Posted by TV Guide Staff 12/21/07 9:18 AM

SAG Awards: "Interim Agreement" with WGA Means the Show Will Go On

The rest of red-carpet season may be in flux, but the SAG Awards show will go on. Screen Actors Guild president Alan Rosenberg confirmed Thursday that thanks to an interim agreement with the WGA, there will be a televised show, written by screenwriters and attended by actors. Here is a look at what Rosenberg said.

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Writers, Globes Still Not Golden

Guild doesn't want to grant waiver for awards

January 3, 2008

Wednesday afternoon, the organizers of the Golden Globes issued a statement about possibly getting a waiver to let striking writers work on the awards show -- thus ensuring a picket-free red carpet.

Absent from the statement was any comment from the Writers Guild. That came later in the day, and it popped the optimistic balloon the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which hands out the Globes, had floated earlier in the day.

So, essentially, the Golden Globes are right back where they were. Ten days from the ceremony's scheduled Jan. 13 airdate on NBC, it's very likely the show will be picketed, and members of other Hollywood unions will have to decide whether to cross that picket line to attend.

Early Wednesday afternoon, Hollywood Foreign Press President Jorge Camara issued a statement saying the group's lawyers had begun discussions with the WGA about signing an agreement that would allow the Golden Globes to employ guild members. Camara cited the deal writers struck with David Letterman's company, Worldwide Pants, that allowed his show to return with writers on Wednesday night.

"Much like the Screen Actors Guild Awards and Film Independent's Spirit Awards" -- for which the Writers Guild has granted waivers -- "we want to enter into an agreement with the WGA that will allow the entertainment industry to celebrate the outstanding work of creative individuals in addition to millions of fans nationwide," Camara said. "It is only fair that we be afforded the same opportunity as these other awards shows."

Camara added that Dick Clark Productions, which produces the Globes telecast, was willing to offer interim agreements for all of its productions, which also include the American Music Awards and the Academy of Country Music Awards.

Later in the day, however, the guild issued a brief statement suggesting no deal would be coming soon: "Dick Clark Productions is a struck company. As previously announced, the Writers Guild will be picketing the Golden Globe Awards," it read.

The guild statement expressed "great respect and admiration" for the Hollywood Foreign Press, but added that "we are engaged in a crucial struggle that will protect our income and intellectual property rights for generations to come. We will continue to do everything in our power to bring industry negotiations to a fair conclusion. In the meantime, we are grateful for the ongoing support of the Hollywood talent community."

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Courtesy of: TV GUIDE, TV GUIDE EDITORS BLOG, STRIKE WATCH

Gloden Globes Officially Whittled Down to a One-hour Press Conference

Though NBC and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association attempted to hammer out a deal that would have reimagined the Golden Globes telecast as a series of NBC News specials, the lavish gala on Monday evening was officially whittled down to a one-hour press conference announcing the winners and to be covered live, Sunday at 9 pm/ET, by NBC News.

According to the "unofficial schedule" that was bandied about on onday and cited by Nikki Finke's DeadlineHollywoodDaily.com, the Peacock proposed kicking off the evening with a 7 pm edition of Dateline featuring interviews with this year's nominees. At 8, the ideal idea (if approved by the WGA) was to present a clip show of the Globes' greatest moments. From 9 to 10, NBC News present the "press conference," followed at 10 by an Access Hollywood-style roundup of the aforementioned parties.

From 9 to 10, NBC News would cover a "press conference" revealing the winners, with cameras cutting away for reactions at any number of Globes soir

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Courtesy of: TV GUIDE, TV GUIDE EDITORS BLOG, STRIKE WATCH

Grey's Star: Strike "Needs to Stop; Producers Need to Have a Heart"

The last new pre-strike episode of Grey's Anatomy airs this Thursday and cast member T.R. Knight just wants to go back to work. "It's gone on too long," Knight said at the Monday premiere of Grey's mate Katherine Heigl's 27 Dresses. "It needs to stop. [The producers] need to have a heart."

Knight voiced concerns for the crew and others involved in the production whose salaries are no match for the actors, noting, "There are a lot of children that are being affected by the strike." Stressing how fortunate he feels to have this job, he said, "Most actors aren't as lucky as we are to get this kind of job. Most writers are living on their residuals, and they have families."

Calling the past two and a half months "dark times for the entertainment industry... and it's getting worse," Knight offered up an idea that could apply pressure to the networks and production companies. "People should write into the advertisers and tell them that they won't buy their products until the strike stops. I don't know what else to do besides being vocal about it."

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Courtesy of: TV GUIDE, TV GUIDE EDITORS BLOG, STRIKE WATCH

Good News for WGA and CBS News

The Writers Guild of America East has reached a tentative agreement with CBS News. The new deal covers 500 news writers, editors, desk assistants, production assistants and graphic artists working in the newsrooms of the network and several of its TV and radio stations. The employees had been working without a contract for more than two years and in November voted to strike. Though they never walked off the job, the action did lead to the cancellation of a scheduled Democratic debate in Los Angeles as presidential candidates were unlikely to cross picket lines to attend.

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I don't know about anyone else, but I laughed by butt off when I heard award shows were getting scrapped. No more 4 hour pat-on-back sessions.

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No more 4 hour pat-on-back sessions.

AMEN to that! ;)

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Courtesy of: TV GUIDE, TV GUIDE EDITORS BLOG, STRIKE WATCH

George Clooney Recruits All-star Mediation Team

He's robbed millions from Sin City vaults, so who's to say he can't solve the unsolvable? George Clooney is assembling a "mediation panel," composed of several Hollywood heavy hitters, which would set out to get the WGA strike resolved once and for all. As reported by Nikke Finke's DeadlineHollywoodDaily.com, Clooney plans to ask Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and John Wells ("a controversial ex-WGA president"), as well as three or four producer-sympathetic bigwigs, to join this strike-striking squad.

While pitching the idea in a phone call to Harvey Weinstein (who is also onboard), Clooney is said to have suggested that the panel lock all involved parties in a room and then tell each side as each term is negotiated, "You have to live with this and get over it."

What's your take? Just so much posturing by a well-intentioned movie star? Or hey, might this actually get the job done?

Posted by TV Guide Staff 01/11/08 11:03 AM

Will the Strike Force The Closer to Close Up Shop?

The Closer herself may be used to ending negotiations to her satisfaction, but this time it seems like Brenda has met her match in the WGA strike. "We were due to go back into production in about a month and we can't, because the writers need a two-month head start before we can get to work," J.K. Simmons, who plays Chief Pope on the TNT hit, told TV Guide at this week's Critics Choice Awards. "I think that if we're not back at work by sometime in April, there is no way we can deliver episodes in the summer. If that becomes the case, I don't know if TNT is willing to push it into the fall or if we lose an entire season."

In the meantime, Simmons is enjoying the success of TV's Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and Juno, both of which he has roles in and both of which nabbed awards on Monday. "Juno is richly deserving of all the attention it's getting," he says. "Diablo [Cody]'s script, Jason [Reitman]'s direction, all of the cast... it's really something I am proud to be in."

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Producers Get Ax at ABC Studios

Company cites strike in terminating deals

January 14, 2008

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Taye Diggs

ABC Studios has cut ties with more than 20 producers with overall deals at the studio, citing "force majeure" brought on by the writers' strike.

The cuts came late Friday at the Disney-owned studio and primarily involved writers and producers who aren't involved in active shows. Among the bigger names being let go, according to the showbiz trade papers, were "Borat" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" director Larry Charles, "Scrubs" writer-producer Bill Callahan and actor Taye Diggs, who had a producing deal extended when he joined the cast of ABC's "Private Practice."

"The ongoing strike has had a significant detrimental impact on development and production, so we are forced to make the difficult decision to release a number of talented, respected individuals from their development deals," the studio says in a statement.

ABC Studios and most of the other studios suspended overall deals in the early days of the strike. Under the force majeure provision in those contracts, an act outside either party's control -- like the writers' strike -- the studios could terminate the deals after several weeks. Not many people, however, expected a single studio to cut so many overall deals at one time.

The reduction represents about a fourth of the overall deals at ABC Studios (formerly Touchstone TV), the trades estimate. Other studios are expected to cut some of their overall deals in the coming days, though not necessarily as drastically as at ABC.

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Studios Cancel TV Writer Contracts

The move signals that the development of next season's programs could be in jeopardy because of the strike.

By Meg James, L.A. Times

January 15, 2008

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Writers walk the picket lines.

Conceding that the current television season cannot be salvaged, four major studios canceled dozens of writer contracts Monday.

The move signals that development of next season's crop of new shows also could be in jeopardy because of the 2-month-old writers strike. Typically, January marks the start of pilot season when networks order new comedies and dramas. But with writers not working, networks do not have a pool of scripts from which to choose.

20th Century Fox Television, CBS Paramount Network Television, NBC Universal and Warner Bros. Television each confirmed that they terminated development and production agreements. Such arrangements typically cost the studios $500,000 to $2 million a year per writer in order to pay them and their staffs and overhead while they develop ideas for new TV shows.

WGA Writers' Strike Roundup

"I didn't see it coming," said Barbara Hall, a writer and producer whose credits include former CBS series "Joan of Arcadia" and "Judging Amy." ABC executives gave her the news Friday. "I am not entirely sure what their strategy is, all I know was that I was a casualty of it," she said.

It's unclear how many people will be affected by the so-called force majeure actions, which allow a studio unilaterally to cancel a writer's contract in the event of a crisis such as a strike. A production deal can involve a solo writer or a team of several people.

"The duration of the WGA strike has significantly affected our ongoing business. Regretfully, due to these changed business circumstances, we've had to end some writer/producer deals," NBC Universal said in its statement.

Overall, more than 65 deals with writers have been eliminated since Friday. ABC Studios late last week cut about 25 deals. On Monday, CBS Paramount cut 15, Fox jettisoned about 14, NBC Universal rid nearly 10, and Warner Bros. trimmed three, said people familiar with the situation.

One top studio executive said if the strike continues into February there would probably be another round of force majeure eliminations. "There are likely to be deeper cuts," said the executive, who asked not to be identified given the sensitivity of the issue.

For the studios, the terminations were in some part strategic. Payments had not been made on the contracts since November, when the Writers Guild of America went on strike. The canceled contracts mostly affected writers who may have achieved some success but were not behind the bigger hits.

By eliminating the deals now, the studios will no longer be obligated to pay the writers even if the strike ends in the next month or two. The action saves the media companies tens of millions of dollars in payments, and is the first real sign of belt-tightening caused by the strike.

meg.james@latimes.com

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Courtesy of: TV GUIDE, TV GUIDE EDITORS BLOG, STRIKE WATCH

Strike May Cramp Grammys' Groove

As if the Golden Globes' press conference wasn't enough of a wet blanket for the awards season

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Courtesy of: TV GUIDE, TV GUIDE EDITORS BLOG, STRIKE WATCH

Striking Writers Head for the Internet

Today was the deadline for proposals for Strike TV, a new online channel that striking members of the WGA are setting up. The site, which will live on the United Hollywood website, will feature original video shorts and shows created by "working professionals" in the TV and film biz, and is set to launch in February.

OnlineMedia.com reported that the new channel's designed not only to showcase what the striking professionals are made of

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As devastating as this strike is to the entertainment industry, I wanted to take time out to thank Dade for keeping us posted with the updates on this sad chapter. Writers really do want to get back to the business of their talented contributions. C'mon, producers and writers . . . gather around the table, sharpen those No. 2 pencils and work out some numbers.
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I agree TVPaige, they need to get it settled. This is starting to go into next seasons shows. What is the quality of the shows going to be like if the writers have to rush.

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Courtesy of: TV GUIDE, TV GUIDE EDITORS BLOG, STRIKE WATCH

Warner Bros. Axes Facilities Workers

In the latest round of strike-related job cuts, Warner Bros. today axed close to three dozen people from its facilities staff, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

In November, the studio notified the more than 1,000 workers on its facilities roster that their jobs were potentially in jeopardy because of the WGA strike. Following today's layoff, the company issued a statement explaining their efforts to minimize the layoff and apologizing "for the impact this has on our non-striking workforce."

The WB layoff follows cuts in writer and producer rosters at several studios in the past week, starting with those at ABC. As the DGA is rumored to be nearing a deal with studios, the stakes are getting higher every day. WGA prez Patric M. Verrone commented on the losses

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Directors, Studios Make a Deal

The contract terms could pave the way for a solution to the 11-week-old writers strike.

By Richard Verrier and Claudia Eller, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

January 17, 2008

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DGA President Michael Apted

The Directors Guild of America today reached an agreement with the major studios that will now put pressure on Hollywood writers to revive talks to end an 11-week-old strike that has roiled Hollywood.

In a new three-year contract, directors negotiated an improved deal than what studios had initially offered writers, including higher royalties for online sales of their movies and TV shows.

Disputes over how writers should be paid when their shows are distributed over the Internet, cellphones and other new media have been the central sticking point in failed negotiations between studios and writers.

With the directors' deal complete, pressure now shifts to the leaders of the Writers Guild of America to use that agreement as a basis for concluding their own contract that would end the industry's costliest strike in two decades. The walkout shut down the television industry and is upending the awards season. In Hollywood, contracts are often determined through "pattern bargaining," where the first union to negotiate a deal sets the template for the other unions.

Concurrent with today's announcement, media executives invited writers to revive talks that studios broke off last month with an eye toward having more cordial and productive negotiations like they had with directors.

It's unclear, however, whether writers will find the terms sufficiently acceptable to frame their own agreement. Although studios gave better terms to directors, they still fall short of what writers were seeking in their negotiations.

What's more, leaders of both the WGA and the Screen Actors Guild, whose contract expires June 30, have stressed that they won't be tied to terms set by directors.

Many writers feared that directors would sell them short, especially in the area of Internet residuals. Many still blame directors for negotiating a much-maligned formula for home video residuals more than two decades ago that became the standard for all talent unions.

However, WGA leaders would probably face a backlash if they summarily reject the directors deal. Many TV and screen writers have been urging guild leaders to seriously consider the DGA deal as a framework to revive their own contract talks that studios halted last month.

"If the WGA rejects the basic concepts of a DGA deal, there's going to be a great deal of dissatisfaction among the membership," said Dick Wolf, creator and executive producer of the "Law & Order" franchise. "The bottom line here is: This town should be back to work in three weeks."

Jerry Bruckheimer, one of Hollywood's biggest movie and TV producers, echoed the sentiments. "I think there is enormous pressure on everybody to settle this and move on," said Bruckheimer, whose TV shows -- including the "CSI" franchise, "Without a Trace" and "Cold Case" -- halted production because of the strike.

The contract covering 13,400 members guarantees directors a $1,260 fixed residual payment for one-hour TV dramas streamed over the Internet in the first year, compared with $250 the studios had offered writers. The studios also would be entitled to a 24-day promotional window in the first year, and a 17-day window in the second year. After the first year, writers would receive 2% of the distributor's gross revenue.

When movies are sold online, directors will receive the current DVD royalty, 0.36% on the first 50,000 downloads, and 0.65% thereafter. Directors would get a 0.36% residual for the first 100,000 downloads of their TV episodes, and 0.7% after that.

Directors received jurisdiction over Web episodes based on existing scripted shows and original Web shows above a certain budget threshold. For instance, Web series costing less than $500,000 would be exempted.

The deal contains a so-called revisit clause that allows contract provisions to be adjusted after the three-year term.

Anxieties have been running high among television writers, who are rapidly losing their studios deals because of the strike.

ABC Studios, 20th Century Fox Television, CBS Paramount Network Television, NBC Universal and Warner Bros. Television each terminated development and production agreements with writers in the last week. So far, more than 65 deals have been terminated, and more are expected if the strike drags on.

TV and screen writers have held a series of meetings with members of the guild's negotiation committee and board members to voice their concerns about the strike's effect on their livelihoods. That message was conveyed in a meeting Monday attended by more than 30 TV writer-producers, and a series of meetings last week with screenwriters.

The DGA deal came together rapidly and without the kind of rancor that characterized the negotiations between writers and the studios. As is their custom, directors spent months laying the groundwork for the studios.

Formal negotiations wrapped in less than a week because so much of the legwork had already been done.

One reasons for the fast pace was the direct involvement of News Corp. President Peter Chernin and Walt Disney Co.'s Bob Iger. The executives had been designated by their counterparts at the media companies to hammer out a framework for a deal. Chernin helped negotiate the new media terms of the deal.

Chernin and Iger also are expected to be similarly involved in any resumed writers talks.

Beyond the writers, the studios also face what could be equally contentious negotiations with actors, whose contract is up June 30. Actors share many of the same concerns as writers and have strongly supported them on the picket lines.

Studios already have begun preparing for the possibility of an actors strike by pushing up shooting schedules of various movies.

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Courtesy of: TV GUIDE, TV GUIDE EDITORS BLOG, STRIKE WATCH

WGA, Studios Plan to Reach Out & Start Talking

Let the thawing begin! According to the HollywoodReporter.com, the WGA plans to begin informal talks with studio execs, possibly even by Monday, as part of their work to restart negotiations with the AMPTP. An anonymous guild source let the word out that the icy tundra of discontent that's developed since talks broke off Dec. 7 may be seeing a glimmer of sunshine.

The news of the talks follows a deal made yesterday between the DGA and the AMPTP, which, the source said, the WGA plan to "study."

"We're going to follow the same pattern as the DGA," the source was quoted as saying, "first meeting with the studio executives informally and then maybe following that up with actual negotiations."

Let's hope the two parties follow through and take the DGA's success to heart. It seems to be working already.

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Writers, Studios Start Talking Again

Informal discussions come after directors make deal

By Richard Verrier and Claudia Eller, LA Times

January 21, 2008

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Writers walk the picket lines.

Spurred by the employment contract signed by the Directors Guild of America, Hollywood's writers and the major studios agreed Friday to resume talks, hoping to reach an agreement that would end the nearly 11-week-old strike, according to several people close to the matter.

Writers Guild of America leaders plan to meet as early as Tuesday with News Corp. President Peter Chernin and possibly other top executives, reviving talks that studios broke off early last month, the people said. Representatives of the Writers Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the studios, declined to comment on the meeting.

But in an interview Friday, Patric M. Verrone, president of the Writers Guild of America, West, said the union welcomed an offer made by the studios Thursday to resume bargaining. "Everyone wants us to get back into negotiations, and that's what we intend to do," Verrone said.

Verrone declined to give his assessment of the tentative DGA deal, saying guild officials were still studying its contents. The guild's negotiating committee will meet today to discuss the directors deal and make recommendations to Verrone and Executive Director David Young on how to proceed in their upcoming talks.

Guild leaders face mounting pressure from show runners and screenwriters to use the DGA agreement as a basis for a new three-year contract of their own. The guild has scheduled outreach meetings with members in the next two weeks to brief them on the DGA agreement.

Though the directors deal falls short of what the writers were seeking, it generally received positive reviews by several negotiating-committee members and top writers.

"I'm really impressed with how mindful the DGA was [in striking a] deal good enough to put the whole town back to work," said Scott Frank ("Minority Report," "The Interpreter"), who is a DGA member and a former Writers Guild board member. "They were under enormous pressure, and they seem to have delivered."

Writer-producer John Wells ("ER," "The West Wing"), who has close ties to the studios, went further. "This is a precedent-setting deal," the former guild president said, "much better than any deal negotiated for the creative guilds in several decades." Wells expressed his support of the DGA deal in an e-mail Friday morning to hundreds of writer colleagues.

Though many writers view the new DGA contract as far from perfect, they say it makes strides toward their main goal: securing fair pay for work distributed over the Internet, cellphones, digital video players and other devices.

Sales of digital downloads are small today but are expected to grow rapidly in the next decade as entertainment migrates online. Some analysts estimate that movie download revenue will rise to nearly $2 billion by 2011.

Studios gave directors considerably more than they had offered writers before their talks broke down.

Among other things, directors managed to double the residual payments they currently receive when movies and TV shows are sold online. As recently as a few weeks ago, Wells said, the studios vowed that they would never raise the rate.

Also appealing to writers was a provision in the directors contract extending union contracts to Web shows, both original works and those derived from existing scripted television programs. Web shows that cost more than $15,000 a minute or $300,000 an episode would be covered under the directors contract.

Although most original Web content costs less than that to produce, an influx of traditional filmmakers is quickly increasing budgets. One recent example is "Quarterlife," the $5-million-plus Web series created by Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick, producers of the hit television series "thirtysomething" and films including "Blood Diamond."

Still, some writers contend that the thresholds are too high because the vast majority of original Web shows currently are made on shoestring budgets of $500 to $6,000 an episode.

The directors deal for the first time provides a system for compensating talent for shows that are streamed free on ad-supported websites. Directors would get a fixed fee of about $1,200 in the first year that a one-hour drama is offered online. That's a vast improvement over the $250 that studios offered writers in their talks.

Some writers, however, complained that the deal would give studios too wide a promotional window for streaming shows online before they have to start paying residuals.

Studios would get a 17-day window for existing shows and 24 days on new series. The concern is that most viewers watch reruns of their favorite shows online within days after the initial broadcast -- not weeks -- giving studios little incentive to run a program beyond the promotional window.

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I hope they hurry up, there are alot of zero episodes left on this now.

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Courtesy of: TV GUIDE, AUSIELLO REPORT

UPDATED Strike Chart: How Long Before Your Shows Go Dark?

[uPDATED 1/18/08] There seems to be little doubt that the writers' strike will result in a shorter TV season, but just how short are we talking? Well, as you might've guessed, it varies from show to show. Those programs that are either highly efficient (Friday Night Lights) or have entered the season with a backlog of episodes (Men in Trees, Law & Order: SVU) will be in originals well into the new year. But series with tighter production schedules (i.e., nearly every half-hour comedy) will go dark almost immediately. Of course, figuring out how many episodes remain in your favorite shows' arsenals requires a lot of numbers crunching

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Courtesy of: TV GUIDE, TV GUIDE EDITORS BLOG, STRIKE WATCH

Oscars To Go On, But Not Without Some PR

The Oscars show will go on, but not without the benefit of Hollywood-style rationalization as to why the Academy would hold the event in the face of a writers strike. After all, if the strike continues into the kudoscast's Feb. 24 date, both writers and actors who would potentially be attending as guests or nominees would likely not attend.

In response to the potential conflict of interest, several event officials emphasize that of the 26 award categories, only four are for acting (and thus would benefit from the presence of the announced winner). Add in some musical extravaganzas, clips of Hollywood through history, and voila

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Courtesy of: TV GUIDE, TV GUIDE EDITORS BLOG, STRIKE WATCH

From the Picket Lines: Strike Over by Oscars?

This just in from Erin Fox, who edits TVGuide.com sister sites TV-Now.com and JumptheShark.com and is in Los Angeles this weekend for the SAG Awards....

The strike has gone on for several months now, and while there is no definitive news on when it will end, me thinks there is hope! With new individual deals being struck almost every day (Marvel, Lionsgate and RKO studios are the latest) and talks between the WGA and AMPTP resuming earlier this week, the writers on the picket lines at Fox Studios in Los Angeles seem reinvigorated by their efforts.

I got to spend Saturday visiting the picket line at Fox. The first person I spoke to (read: stalked and pursued) was Chuck Tatham from Back to You (everyone affectionately calls him "Uncle Chuckles"), who had me falling over laughing the entire conversation. He began with saying he's "brimming with optimism [about the new talks between]... and chafing. The two riddles on the line here are, 'How can I end the strike?' and 'How can I gain weight walking five miles a day?' Those are the two things I'm trying to solve." As I recovered from laughing, he continued, "You know writing is a grueling career. Sometimes we have to be in by noon.... Oh, I'm kidding, we're always in by one." All jesting aside, Tatham made sure he conveyed his more serious thoughts on the strike and his gratitude for the work he's been involved in

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Closer to a Deal: Can We Be Optimistic Yet?

As the WGA strike creeps closer to Oscar night (Feb. 24) and begins to impact the fall development season, there is word that the two sides have moved closer to making a deal after a week of informal talks. Now that the Directors Guild of America has come to terms with the studios, sources from the Writers Guild have told the Los Angeles Times that while that deal is flawed, it nonetheless is a workable model for their own agreement.

Among the lingering issues is payment for streaming programming online. The directors' deal settled for a $1,200 payment for online reruns during the first year. Writers fear that such a low figure would encourage the networks to end network reruns, for which a writer can be paid as much as $20,000. However, if this week's talks yield the outlines of a deal, the Times estimates that more-formal negotiations will soon follow.

Of course, it's not the first time we've heard that. Similar "good" news in early December ended badly, with the two sides ceasing talks altogether. The three-month-long strike has cost thousands their jobs and the Los Angeles economy about $1.6 billion. That figure would edge higher if the strike forced the cancellation of the Academy Awards. Both the Writers' Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have declined official comment, citing a "press blackout." Talks are expected to resume Tuesday.

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Courtesy of: TV GUIDE, TV GUIDE EDITORS BLOG, STRIKE WATCH

Writers' Benefits Are On the Line

As the WGA strike approaches its 90th day, writers may now be able to add health benefits to their losses tally, Variety says. Prior to the strike, WGA leaders Patric Verrone and David Young assured members that there would be no affect on guild-given benefits eligibility once it started. But it turns out that they were wrong.

If the strike continues into the spring, around 250 guild members will lose their eligibility as of April 1 because they did not meet the annual salary minimum by Dec. 31

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