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Writer's Guild Of America Goes On Strike


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News Corp.'s Chernin Returns for Strike Talks

Negotiations between the WGA and AMPTP should get a boost Friday as Peter Chernin, the head of News Corp., returns from London to rejoin the ongoing talks.

Alongside that news, more individual deals are being struck daily, the most recent being with The Film Department and Intermedia, giving industry members a much needed pick-me-up. Other deals that have been signed to date include RKO Productions Inc., Lionsgate, Marvel Studios, The Weinstein Company, United Artists, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, Spyglass Entertainment, MRC, Jackson Bites, Mandate Films and Worldwide Pants.

Dare we say, things may be looking up in Hollywood today?

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This Just In: WGA Strike Nearly Over?

Looks like we're in the homestretch, kids.

Both the New York Times and the AP are reporting that the major roadblocks between the striking Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have been eliminated, paving the way for a tentative agreement as early as next week. Yes, you read that right

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WGA to Weigh New Deal on Saturday; Writers Could Return to Work Soon After

The latest buzz from the inner circles at the informal strike talks indicates that "there is strong support for the deal" that came together over the weekend, a source tells TVGuide.com. The latest terms are due to be presented to the WGA membership on Saturday, Feb. 9, and if the guild likes what they hear, the strike order could be lifted soon thereafter

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I think Clooney and the rest of the Actors Guild just want to have their fancy back-patting Oscar party, and that's why they're pressuring the WGA to cave. Just my opinion...

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Michael Eisner Tells CNBC, "The Strike Is Over"

During a Thursday afternoon visit to CNBC's Fast Money, former Disney CEO Michael Eisner boldly declared the three-month-old WGA strike "over." Pressed to elaborate, he said, "They've made a deal, they shook hands on a deal [and it] is going on Saturday to the constituents [for a vote]." Eisner went so far as to assert, "It's impossible that [the writers] turn it down. A deal has been made and they will be back to work reasonably soon."

The Fast Money host smartly asked Eisner if he was aware of what he was proclaiming over the airwaves, and the guest stuck to his story, saying, "I know the deal's been made and I know the strike is over. I have some friends in certain places and I believe there was a handshake [agreement] last Friday. It's possible they [the guild] will turn it down but it would be insane if they [did]."

Posted by TV Guide Staff 02/7/08 8:51 PM

Deal Could Be in Front of WGA by Friday; Meanwhile, Oscars Still in Limbo

A draft of a proposed deal between the Writers Guild of America and the AMPTP could be ready by Friday. If so, the WGA's bargaining committee and the boards of its East and West Coast chapters plan to review the proposal before passing it along to its membership at Saturday meetings in New York (at 2 pm/ET) and Los Angeles (7 pm/PT).

Will the deal get done in time to not only salvage some of this TV season (which would be lovely) but also keep the stars shining on the awards season's grand finale, the Feb. 24 Oscars? Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences president Sid Ganis tells Variety, "We're running out of time. We've asked several times for a waiver or a one-day truce to move ahead," but to little avail. "I'm nervous," says Ganis. "We need to make plans."

Until a decision is arrived at one way or the other, he confirms, "We're preparing for two shows"

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Courtesy of: ZAP2IT

Writers Announce Tentative Deal

Work could restart next week if contract is approved

By Rick Porter

February 9, 2008

The Writers Guild of America announced a tentative deal with studios late Friday, which if approved could get striking scribes back to work as soon as next week.

The agreement "protects a future in which the Internet becomes the primary means of both content creation and delivery," guild presidents Patric Verrone and Michael Winship write in a letter to members. It also "establishes the principle that, 'When they get paid, we get paid.'"

Writers began their strike on Nov. 5 after fruitless negotiations with studios over residual payments for streaming video and downloads of movie and TV shows, shutting down nearly all scripted TV production and delaying several prominent movie projects. Episodes of most prime-time series dried up in December and January, forcing the broadcast networks to cobble together schedules of reruns, reality shows and midseason replacements. Ratings have fallen.

The announcement of the deal came only hours before Writers Guild membership meetings in New York and Los Angeles, at which guild leaders will explain the deal and hear from members. The boards of the WGA East and West could meet as soon as Sunday to approve the deal and end the strike, meaning writers could return to their jobs by Monday.

Once writers do return, new episodes of TV series would follow within a few weeks. Sitcoms would likely make it back on the air first, with dramas taking a little longer to ramp up again. Networks will likely pick and choose which series they want back; some new series may be held until the fall.

A deal would also allow the Oscars, set for Sunday, Feb. 24, to proceed without the specter of pickets.

The writers' tentative agreement includes several key points related to streaming and downloads of TV shows and movies, which had been the major sticking point between the guild and media conglomerates during the strike.

Payments for streaming of TV series will initially be a fixed amount of about $1,300 a year for an hour-long show (and about half that for half-hours), which is similar to the deal the Directors Guild negotiated with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers last month.

In the third year of the writers' contract, however, streaming payments will switch to a percentage formula, with scribes getting 2 percent of the distributor's revenue. The percentage ensures that if, as is widely predicted, proceeds from streaming take off, writers will be able to share in the growth.

The deal also includes a slight bump for downloads of movies and TV shows and a 1.2-percent residual in the relatively new market of download rentals, as well as increases in minimum pay each year and guild jurisdiction over projects created specifically for new media. (A summary of the deal is at UnitedHollywood.com.)

"Much has been achieved," Verrone and Winship say in their letter, "and while this agreement is neither perfect nor perhaps all that we deserve for the countless hours of hard work and sacrifice, our strike has been a success.



A Tentative Deal Is Reached; WGA Prez Gives it a Thumbs-up

The WGA has reached a tentative deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. (Have you ever heard 16 such wonderful words?) At 3 am Saturday morning

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After the Strike: When Your Favorites Will Return!

At long last, a strike chart you can get excited about!

With an end to the three-month-old WGA strike imminent (yay!), the networks have quietly begun outlining plans to salvage what's left of the current TV season. At the same time, I've been quietly picking at my moles to get a preview of those plans

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WGA Boards Meet and Approve Deal: Showrunners Can Return to Work Monday

The boards for both branches of the Writers Guild of America on Sunday unanimously approved the tentative deal reached for a new contract. The boards are also taking the final decision on liftng the strike to membership in a vote on Tuesday.

In the meantime, showrunners will get going even sooner, heading back to work Monday to get crews set up and production facilities going again, as will writers who have producing duties on their shows. Ballots to ratify the three-year deal are also going out to members, and will be returned within a 10-12 day period.

Patric Verrone commented on the deal agreement, saying, "This is the best deal this guild has bargained for in 30 years."

Verrone also went on to praise the work of the three CEOs who stepped up in the decisive moments of negotiations, including News Corp. chief Peter Chernin, Disney head Robert Iger and CBS top dog Leslie Moonves. Until the business chiefs sat down at the bargaining table, Verrone said, "We spent about three months getting nowhere."

In light of the huge support among writers for the deals in members' meetings on both coasts Saturday, it's expected that they'll be in favor to end the strike in Tuesday's vote, and be able to return to work as early as Wednesday. For writers pushed out of contracts in force majeure situations, many will be hired back, but in a case-by-case scenario, in which the status of each show will affect the deals.

As the final logistical steps are taking place, at least most of Hollywood will start getting back into motion.

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Courtesy of: ZAP2IT

The TV Grid: Is Your Show Coming Back?

With the end of the writers strike in sight, anything's possible. But here's a look at how your favorite TV shows might fare.


Likely to be back with new episodes in the spring

Desperate Housewives

Grey's Anatomy

Samantha Who?

Ugly Betty

Boston Legal

Brothers & Sisters

Probably won't be back until next season

Private Practice

Pushing Daisies

Dirty Sexy Money

On the bubble

Women's Murder Club

Cashmere Mafia



Big Shots

Notes From the Underbelly


The rest


(six new episodes left)

Eli Stone

(11 new episodes left)

October Road

(five new episodes left)

Men in Trees

(11 new episodes left)

According to Jim

(six new episodes left)


(seven episodes, hasn't premiered)


Likely to be back with new episodes in the spring

The Office

30 Rock

Law & Order

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

My Name Is Earl



Saturday Night Live - scheduled to return Feb. 23

Probably won't be back until next season



On the bubble

Friday Night Lights


Bionic Woman

We await details on...


Las Vegas


Lipstick Jungle


Likely to be back with new episodes in the spring

Two and a Half Men

How I Met Your Mother

The Big Bang Theory


Criminal Minds

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

CSI: Miami


Without a Trace

Cold Case

Ghost Whisperer


On the bubble




We await details on...

The New Adventures of Old Christine

Welcome to the Captain

The Unit


Rules of Engagement


(seven already shot episodes to air starting Tuesday)


(hasn't yet aired)


Likely to be back with new episodes in the spring

Back to You

'Til Death


Probably won't be back until next season


On the bubble

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles



We await details on...


Prison Break


Likely to be back with new episodes in the spring

Gossip Girl



One Tree Hill

(six more episodes already shot, more possible)

On the bubble



Life Is Wild

We await details on...

Aliens in America


The Game

Everybody Hates Chris


Strike proof

In Treatment

(First season airing now; all episodes were completed before the strike)

Likely to be back in late 2008/early 2009

Writing to resume immediately after the strike ends on


Big Love

Flight of the Conchords

Tell Me You Love Me

On the horizon

True Blood

(Two episodes were completed before the strike; this series is expected to debut in the fall.)

12 Miles of Bad Road

(Five episodes shot on another new series; no air date scheduled yet.)


Likely to be back in late spring/early summer


(Scheduled to go in production in April)

Secret Diaries of a Call Girl

(Eight episodes of a new half-hour comedy series have already been shot)

The Tudors

(Ten episodes of season 2 have been shot; season 2 is scheduled to debut March 30.)

State of the Union

(Tracey Ullman's new show, is set to premiere March 30 with five episodes.)

We await details on...

Production schedules and debut dates unavailable.





On next month


(The strike-shortened seven-episode season begins airing in March.)

The Riches

(The strike-shortened season begins airing in March.)

Strike proof

30 Days

(The documentary show was unaffected by the strike; a six-episode season airs in early summer)

The Shield

(Production on all 13 episodes of the seventh and final season are completed, but awaiting final edit. Will air sometime after the summer.)

Back in late 2008/early 2009

Writing on all the shows is set to resume as soon as the strike ends.


Rescue Me


It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

--Los Angeles Times

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Writers Start to Play Catchup

TV scribes have long days ahead of them

By Maria Elena Fernandez and Matea Gold, LA Times

February 15, 2008


Kaley Cuoco of 'The Big Bang Theory'

From the Los Angeles Times

With the strike over, the salvage operation begins.

Hollywood lurched back into gear this week, reviving projects sidelined by the three-month labor dispute with its writers.

For broadcast television, which felt the brunt of the work stoppage, the most pressing issues center on the prospects for next season. Studios are now rushing to piece together a truncated pilot season.

Even with a limited pool of new shows to choose from, the networks plan to roll out some kind of fall season. CBS and ABC said Thursday they would join FOX in holding upfront presentations in New York in mid-May, when the networks showcase their new schedules for advertisers.

The week of presentations -- usually lavish affairs that cost up to $5 million per network -- kicks off the period in which broadcasters sell the bulk of their commercial time for the coming TV season.

NBC plans a low-key approach this year, although the network has not yet provided specifics. Overall, the upfronts are likely to be scaled back, in part because broadcasters won't have a bevy of new shows.

Still, the delayed pilot season has left the industry playing catch-up. In a typical February, most pilot scripts have been finished, and producers are busy casting, location scouting or building sets. By March, between 110 and 120 pilots are in production, about 40 of which get picked up as new series.

Instead, studios that had pilot scripts in hand before the strike are now weighing which ones to produce, while writers who hadn't finished their drafts before the walkout are racing to complete them.

"Everyone is scrambling," said Cyrus Voris ("Sleeper Cell"), who is developing two pilots with writing partner Ethan Reiff, one for CBS and another for The CW. "The basic sense is that we've got a week or two to get our scripts in, or else they'll automatically be written off."

Gary Newman, chairman of 20th Century Fox Television, said the studio's development staff was in touch with its writers. "We're not giving people hard-and-fast deadlines," he said. "We're just making them aware of the competitive advantage they'll get if they're able to turn their script in sooner rather than later."

Newman estimated that his studio had 50 to 60 pilot scripts in the works, including one from popular TV producer Joss Whedon, whose new FOX series, "Dollhouse," was ordered from a pitch two weeks before the strike began. Whedon is now busy writing both the pilot script and scenes for auditions.

Even with projects getting fast-tracked, some pilots won't be finished by the time the networks have to decide their schedules. Newman said, "My guess is that they will make decisions on projects they believe in off [daily footage], rough assemblages or trailers."

The abrupt shift into work mode this week has been jarring for all involved.

"I feel a little bit like we're all Rip Van Winkle or Snow White," said producer Tom Fontana, who returned to work this week on "The Philanthropist," a drama originally set to air on NBC this spring. "We've all been kind of sleeping, on both sides."

"It's really surreal," agreed producer Chuck Lorre. Both of Lorre's CBS comedies, "Two and a Half Men" and "The Big Bang Theory," will produce nine more episodes for this season, all in the next 12 weeks, which means his 200-person staff will be back at work by next week, sooner than most.

"We'll be working seven days a week for the next three months, and we'll be happy to do it to pull this off," Lorre said. Greg Berlanti, whose company produces three dramas for ABC, "Brothers & Sisters," "Dirty Sexy Money" and "Eli Stone," described the activity in his office as a "sonic boom."

ABC has ordered four episodes of "Brothers & Sisters" to air this spring and six or seven more to get a head start on next season in case the Screen Actors Guild decides to strike this summer.

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  • 4 months later...




Strike Watch: Would a SAG Stoppage Stall TV's Fall Season Plans?

With talks between the Screen Actors Guild and the studios at a stalemate and unlikely to gain ground by the June 30 expiration of SAG's current contract, networks are starting to brace for the worst. But the sky isn't falling just yet. AFTRA, the other actors union, is expected to ratify its own new deal on July 7. Once that happens, producers are expected to make a final offer to SAG. If rebuffed, the studios could proactively lock out SAG actors, saving themselves the "surprise" upset of a midseason strike.

In the meantime, the nets are puzzled over how to proceed with fall season promotions. Fox, for one, was planning to blow the doors out with barrages of Fringe buzz, but may hold back if the show's early-July production start is in jeopardy.

Should SAG get locked out, here's Variety's synopsis of how it would affect the biz:

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Strike Watch: SAG Eyes Execs Iger, Chernin to Enter Contract Fray

The prolonged stalemate between SAG and Hollywood producers (AMPTP) has many in Tinseltown hoping two big guns

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George Clooney Tries to Bridge SAG and AFTRA Rift

As tensions between SAG and AFTRA continue and the actors' contract expiration date draws closer, George Clooney has released a two-page letter urging each group to "just talk."

In the letter, Clooney attempts to bring the two sides together, outlining each side's position from a neutral point of view and stating that both parties are right. Among the AFTRA supporters on one side are Sally Field, Alec Baldwin and Kevin Spacey. Team SAG, meanwhile, includes Jack Nicholson, Ben Stiller and Martin Sheen.

According to the Reporter, Clooney also notes that, given his own success as an actor, "It's my responsibility to look out for actors who are trying to stay afloat from year-to-year." Given the swiftly impending contract end, hopefully Clooney will be able to help. Will his words be effective?

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Actors Squabble as SAG Deadline Looms

Screen Actors guild contract expires Monday as unions snipe at each other

By Richard Verrier, Los Angeles Times

June 30, 2008


SAG President Alan Rosenberg

Some actors are lining up behind Tom Hanks. Others are backing Jack Nicholson.

This is not an Oscar race. It's the campaign over a new contract for Hollywood actors, and the two movie stars are on opposing sides regarding what to do about it.

With the entertainment industry's major contract with actors set to expire at midnight Monday (June 30), Hollywood is bracing for its second period of labor unrest this year. But this time the turmoil is exacerbated by an ugly family feud that is pitting actor against actor.

In recent weeks the dominant actors union, the Screen Actors Guild, has mounted a highly unusual campaign to scuttle a new agreement negotiated by the smaller American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. The effort -- targeted at 44,000 members who belong to both unions -- has split the ranks of actors, with stars lining up on opposite sides as their leaders trade daily barbs in e-mail blasts to their members.

"I've never seen anything like this," said former SAG President Richard Masur, who is a member of SAG's national board. He called his union's campaign "incredibly divisive."

Masur is among more than 600 actors including Hanks, Susan Sarandon, Kevin Spacey and Alec Baldwin who recently signed a letter in support of the AFTRA accord, which they describe as a good agreement. "If this deal doesn't pass it will take us to a place from which we may not recover," the actors warned.

SAG, however, has lined up its share of high-profile backers, including Nicholson, Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen, who delivered a personal message of support posted on the union's website.

"We have right on our side and we ought to support our SAG negotiating team," said Mortensen, a star of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

Then there's a third camp led by George Clooney, who staked out a middle ground by calling on both unions to end their warring and stop "pitting artist against artist."

SAG president Alan Rosenberg said in a statement Sunday that the guild has "taken no steps" toward a possible strike and indicated that the union would continue to negotiate with the big media companies even after the union's contract runs out.

AFTRA's tentative contract includes pay hikes for actors and is modeled on similar pacts negotiated by writers and directors. But SAG leaders say it doesn't address their bargaining goals, such as increasing the residuals that actors earn from DVD sales, giving them a say in how products are pitched in TV programs and ensuring that all shows created for the Web are covered under the union's contracts.

SAG is spending as much as $150,000 in a barrage of ads, automated phone calls and e-mails to urge joint members to vote down the agreement. Results of the vote by AFTRA's full membership will be announced July 8 and could be a litmus test for whether SAG has enough support to wage a strike. AFTRA, which has 70,000 members, has called the effort a "politically motivated disinformation campaign."

Regardless of the vote results, it's highly unlikely that the unions will patch up their differences any time soon, given their long history of sparring over turf. The two unions have clashed for years over which group can lay claim to actors who work in cable television, and now the battle is shifting to the more high-stakes world of prime-time TV.

AFTRA currently covers nine prime-time shows, including the HBO comedy "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and the new CBS series "Project Gary." The federation represented 22 prime-time pilots produced this year and all the actors in them, up from 16 last year. By comparison, SAG represented 33 produced pilots.

For most of the last two decades, the unions had largely respected each other's jurisdictional boundaries: AFTRA handled shows "recorded live," reflecting its origins in radio, and most programs shot on videotape, while SAG had dibs on everything captured on film. Those lines have been blurred in recent years as more shows are shot with digital technology, supplanting the older formats. Each guild claims jurisdiction over digital, setting the stage for conflict, especially in cable TV, in which AFTRA has made significant inroads.

In the last four years, for example, AFTRA's share of scripted dramatic basic cable shows has grown to 55% from 15% as the union signed deals with producers of such shows as "Army Wives" on Lifetime and FX's "Dirt."

Producers and studio executives praise AFTRA for being easy to work with and willing to tailor contracts that reflect the tight budgets of cable TV shows.

"They showed a willingness to appreciate the financial difficulties of making quality at a price," said Stan Rogow, who produced the NBC kids drama series "Flight 29 Down" in 2005 under an AFTRA contract.

Unlike terms for prime-time television, which the unions have until recently negotiated jointly, contracts for scripted dramatic cable programs are hammered out separately, often leading to widely divergent contract terms that can yield big differences in how much actors are paid.

Indeed, every time Rondell Sheridan sees a repeat of "Cory in the House" he cringes. Not about his performance as Cory's dad, he said, but because he has yet to collect a penny in residuals, the extra payments that actors get from reruns.

That's hard to take given that he has collected several hundred thousand dollars in residuals from his work on "That's So Raven," the hit cable series that spawned the "Cory" spinoff. Although both shows appeared on the Disney Channel, "Raven" was made under a SAG contract whereas "Cory" was covered under an AFTRA contract.

"You're doing the same job and making less money than you did the last time," Sheridan said. "I felt betrayed."

SAG Executive Director Doug Allen seized on the issue a year ago, when he wrote a controversial article in the guild's magazine that accused AFTRA of signing "bargain-basement" agreements with cable producers to undermine pay terms negotiated by SAG.

"They're acting like we're Hertz and they're Avis," Allen said in an interview. "They've been trying to gain market share by undercutting our contracts." AFTRA says such criticisms are spurious, arguing that its contracts reflect economic realities of low-budget cable shows and have enabled some programs to exist that might not otherwise, thereby creating more work for union members.

"Analyzing the question as a zero-sum contest between two unions is ridiculous," said Kim Roberts Hedgpeth, AFTRA's executive director.

"Our primary concern," Hedgpeth said, "is making sure that there is work for actors and other performers ... with the protections of a union contract."



Strike Watch: As Midnight Deadline Looms, SAG Prez Downplays Walkout Talk

At midnight tonight, the current contracts under which the Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA have been working expire, and thus far only the latter union has approved (at least on its merits) a new deal. Is SAG set to walk? Guild president Alan Rosenberg maintains, "We have taken no steps to initiate a strike authorization vote by [our] members. Any talk about a strike or a management lockout is simply a distraction."

Come July 7, AFTRA could formally ratify their new contract

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SAG and Studios Pow-Wow, Set to Reconvene Monday

Following the AMPTP's tendering of a "final offer" to SAG on Monday, the two parties met on Wednesday, at the actors union's request. As their contract expired midnight June 30, SAG had requested more time to examine the latest deal.

On Wednesday, the groups met for a Q&A session about the offer, which the AMPTP says offers more than $250 million in additional compensation for SAG members over the next three years. After a four-hour meeting, SAG asked for a few more days to parse the pact, with a plan to reconvene with producers Monday for a final decision (we hope). According to the AMPTP, no further pow-wows have been planned.

The consensus among Hollywood insiders is that SAG may be compelled to accept the deal, if only because securing a strike vote from the required 75 percent of its members is unlikely.

With Monday as perhaps the official final moment of truth, which way do you think SAG will go?

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