WGA And Producers: Will Talks Finally End Strike?

Writers Guild of America
Writers Guild of America

Hollywood was hibernating and now there's finally a thaw. Thanks to the DGA making a dealwith the AMPTP, the Writers Guild is in its third day of 'informal talks.' There were even more informal talks before this, but apparently these don't quite count as official just yet.

The WGA has dropped its demand for jurisdiction over reality and animation--a significant concession. They've also decided not to picket the Grammy telecast. Good on a number of counts-- this not only pushes the two sides closer to a compromise, but even if they don't make a deal, there's hope they won't picket the Oscars, so the show could go on.

Rumors are swirling that the WGA is going to announce it's made an interim deal with Lions Gate , the largest and most powerful of the independent studios--the biggest player that's not a member of the AMPTP. But this weekend at Sundance I interviewed Lions Gate vice chairman Michael Burns and he said that right now he sees momentum in the talks, so for right now at least, they'll hold off.

Lions Gate's movie business is pretty well insulated from the strike: "Rambo" comes out this weekend, sure to be huge, then horror movie "The Eye" the following week. And this year it has three huge franchise movies--a "Saw" sequel and two Tyler Perry movies, always a gold mine.

It's Lions Gate's TV business that's more at risk, as the upcoming seasons of hit shows "Weeds" (Showtime) and "Mad Men" (AMC) could be delayed and that could push Lions Gate towards a deal.

Still, Burns sees opportunity, even during the strike, to profit from the success of his companies hits on cable and Lions Gate's huge library. Burns said that this might be a good time to take films from the library and TV shows that have only aired on cable, and put them on the networks, which are dying for new content. Not a bad idea at all. And it could be a win-win for the networks and LGF.

Now, everyone's carefully watching the negotiations. A news blackout is in effect--which no doubt, is allowing both sides to focus on the issues, rather than the press aftershocks.

P.S. And forgive my own hibernation the past few days. I was laid up in bed with the flu-- apparently a bunch of folks in Park City caught the bug. I'm back, and will be blogging up a storm.

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