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Hollywood Writers: Strike Or Treats This Halloween?

CNBC.com

The Hollywood screen ad TV writers have all cast their votes on whether or not to strike--the deadline was yesterday. And today, at about two or three pm pacific time, the WGA is expected to announce that they've gotten authorization to strike--a nice threat to have in their pocket when they go into the 11th day of negotiations with the Producers on Monday.

The writers contract expires on October 31, and for a while the writers were expected to wait until the actors and directors contracts expire next summer--to have a strike with really weighty impact. But now it's looking more and more likely that a strike will happen soon. That doesn't mean that on Halloween all the writers will be spend the night readying their picket signs. They're likely to keep on negotiating for a couple weeks without a strike--with the threat giving the writers an extra edge.

At the big Writer's Guild meeting last night, the mood was reportedly a bit lighter, more hopeful that they won't be out of work for months and that the producers will compromise. And for good reason, earlier this week the producers capitulated on the issue of re-vamping the residuals system: the producers wanted to start paying writers residuals only AFTER they'd recouped their costs and they agreed that they wouldn't push that issue any longer.

But producers are still refusing to raise writer's payments for DVDs, digital content, and they're pushing back on the writers' demand that reality TV 'writers' should be included in the writers guild.

Now we're just waiting to know exactly what percent of the guild approved the strike-- the bigger percent, the more likely we'll see picket lines. How much will it cost? If we see five months of strike like we did in 1988, it could cost Hollywood $3 billion dollars, and Standard and Poors recently issued a report saying that stocks including Viacom, Newscorp , Time Warner, and Disney , could be hit.

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  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.