Michael Eisner, former chief executive of The Walt Disney Co. , may have said on CNBC's "Fast Money" that "The strike is over" -- but it's not QUITE there yet.
Almost, but not quite.
And Eisner's optimism definitely reflects the hopeful mood in Hollywood. If the final stretch of negotiations and ratification go well, Friday could have been the last day of picketing, and Monday, writers could be headed back to work. The studios would quickly ramp up production to get some episodes of the most popular shows on air this spring. And the Academy would hustle to throw together the Oscars.
But not so quick -- here's what has to happen for the strike to be over by Monday:
- Sometime Friday the WGA leadership is expected to complete the language of the deal it has made with the AMPTP. (The wording is key as the devil is always in the details on these things).
- Then, the WGA leadership is expected to e-mail the proposal around, or post it on their Web site, so the writers can absorb it.
- Then on Saturday, the membership of the WGA West and East are meeting with their respective leadership in L.A. and New York. The leadership will present the terms, and gauge their reaction.
- Then Sunday, the leadership will meet to vote on whether or not to approve a deal. Before it goes to a membership vote the leadership could very well decide to call off the strike, based on the perception of support at the Saturday meetings.
So, if it's back to work Monday, what then?
The TV industry has certainly been hit the hardest, and no, your favorite shows won't be ready for you to channel-surf to them next week. Sorry. But, I can say that if the networks can have writers back at their desks next week, a dozen-plus of the most popular primetime shows should make it back on the air this spring.
The first shows to return will be comedies, like "The Office" (on CNBC's sister network, NBC -- both owned by General Electric) or "Back to You," on News Corp.'s Fox. You'll also probably see the high-rated shows like "Grey's Anatomy" and "Desperate Housewives." (They're each shot on a contained set, so it won't be so hard to get things back up and running).
You won't see the more complicated, expensive shows until the fall -- the likes of NBC's "Heroes" and Fox's "24" just involve so much production, I won't expect to see any new episodes this spring.
Now, the crunch time. People throughout Hollywood's various industries are hoping there will be reason to celebrate this weekend.
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