Hollywood And Broadway: Hope For Strike Settlements


The Writers Guild and the producers association sat down Monday morning for their first negotiations in three weeks. Those negotiations are continuing right now--all a very good sign that a deal is in the works.

I've been talking to sources on both sides and the consensus (for today at least) is that the strike is expected to be over before the end of 2007. A popular Hollywood blog--posted rumors this morning that an agreement had already (basically) been struck.

It can't entirely be settled yet, but I do think that they wouldn't have sat down (and still be talking) unless they were making progress. Another interesting factor--this time around both have agreed to a media blackout. A flurry of press releases during the first round of negotiations likely exacerbated the differences between the two sides.

There are a couple issues pushing the two sides to compromise. The WGA is dealing with the fact that show runners have returned to their producing duties (they're half producers and half writers), and teamsters have crossed the picket lines. The producers are facing the facts that many TV shows shut down faster than expected and the strike is starting to hit the movie business, delaying production on a number of films. And then there's the issue of who's winning the public relations war.

The writers send out these seemingly endless press releases saying they've won the hearts and minds of America and the Hollywood community. It may be a bit of an exaggeration, but it's safe to say that the studio chiefs and moguls I've talked to have quietly admitted that the producers needed to step up their pr push in the past. So now we just wait for the two sides to push through the talks.

In the meantime we could get some good news from Broadway. After two weeks of Manhattan's biggest theaters sitting dark, the stagehands leadership and the Broadway producers met on Sunday. After a 20 hour marathon session of negotiations the two sides broke for a "nap" on Monday. Now were back in meetings and we could get some good news on the Broadway strike soon.

Broadway can't afford for this strike to go on much longer--the holiday season is the theater business' busiest. Some shows get a fifth their revenue in December, and a delay would mean some of the shows that were in previews before the strike will die before they really start. More reason to "strike" an agreement.

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com