Writers And Producers: Making Progress In Strike Talks?


Here's hoping that the writers and producers made some progress over the long holiday weekend. Much of Hollywood is here in Park City at the Sundance film festival, where I've been since Thursday.

But one person, one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, is notably absent--super agent Bryan Lourd, co-chairman of talent agency giant, CAA (Creative Artists Agency).

All weekend, between movie screenings, and en route to events on Park City's main street, I've heard the same buzz about Lourd's notable absence. He's in LA helping the two sides negotiate a deal.

The directors laid the groundwork with their deal, and now the pressure is on, with the Oscars just a month away, and the Oscar nomination announcements early Tuesday am a painful reminder how important these awards are for the industry. For one thing, everyone who could possibly win a golden statuette, including some of Hollywood's most powerful folks--including actors and writers--wants to make sure the show goes on, as they don't want to lose their chance to shine.

Not to mention the fact that the Oscars bring a couple hundred dollars of economic activity to the LA area. And this pressure to resolve things before the Oscars may actually give the writers more leverage to get more of what they want before then...but it all depends on how eager the big studios are.

This weekend here at Sundance I interviewed Michael Burns, vice chairman of Lions Gate , which is not a member of the AMPTP. The WGA has spoken to Lions Gate about making an interim deal to get writers working for them before the AMPTP figures out their compromise. Burns told me that for now, their movie business is fine, and its their TV productions ("Weeds," "Mad Men") that will be hit first if a strike drags.

For now they have no plans to strike any kind of arrangement, though they'd consider it should the strike drag on. He did say that with talks happening this weekend, he thinks negotiations may have some momentum ,so he's optimistic. For the sake of a lot of unemployed people due to the strike, here's hoping he's right!

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