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Writers And Producers Can't Seem To Get On Same Page

Writers' Strike
CNBC.com
Writers' Strike

Oh darn, the buzz in Hollywood was so optimistic when the writers and producers returned to the bargaining table on Monday. It seemed sure they'd wrap everything up by Christmas, in time for a nice Hollywood ending. But this must be the third act, things just took a dramatic turn, making it unclear how it'll all end.

The producers association, the AMPTP sent out an almost triumphant statement yesterday, saying that they'd proposed a "New Economic Partnership"--a label that just screams with generosity and forward thinking. The AMPTP writes "The entire value of the New Economic Partnership will deliver more than $130 million in additional compensation above and beyond the more than $1.3 billion writers already receive each year."

Translation: hey, you guys already get a lot. The AMPTP said that the WGA was going to think about it until they reconvene on Tuesday morning. But guess what, the WGA retorted, yeah, we may be meeting again on Tues, but we are NOT happy with the plan.

The WGA sent out a vitriolic letter to its membership slamming the AMPTP's proposal, calling it "a massive rollback," also attacking the way in which the AMPTP presented the situation as nearing resolution. Hell no, the WGA says, "We must fight on, returning to the lines on Monday in force to make it clear that we will not back down, that we will not accept a bad deal, and that we are all in this together."

That's some angry rhetoric. In terms of the details--they criticized low payments for reuse of TV content on the web--saying that writers would be paid just $250 for a year's reuse of an hour long program. When movies are streamed on the web, the writers would get nothing. The WGA also didn't like the fact that the proposal didn't include content created for the Internet in the WGA jurisdiction--so writers just for the web wouldn't get regular residuals. The WGA is waiting for more proposals, hoping this is just the beginning.

Now that the press blackout has been lifted the barbs are flying and it's getting messy. And the writers will be back on the picket lines Monday. It's cold and overcast--rainy even--here in LA, and I can't imagine the writers will be very happy about walking around in this weather. From what I'm hearing everyone is very disappointed that the four days of talks yielded this.

I just don't think that the writers want to keep striking until the actors contract expires in June of next year. But I'm not sure if they'd want to return to work without a contract, though that's a possibility. If I were a writer I'd be frustrated that the guild leadership took such a confrontational tone. At this point I don't think it helps anything.

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

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