Writers on Strike

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The Writers Guild of Americastrike against producers, networks and studios that is debilitating the Los Angeles economy may be nearing an end if expectations for a quick agreement between producers and the Directors Guildare realized. The Directors Guild and negotiators from the TV networks and studios, headed by Disney president Bob Igerand News Corp president Peter Chernin, begin talks this week with high hopes that an early agreement will be reached. The Directors Guild contract expires this June. The Guild is armed with extensive research they commissioned last year assessing the economics of new media, a study they offered to provide to the WGA before that organization began their increasingly adversarial strike. According to reports, the Directors Guild research argues for a more tempered approach to negotiations. Insiders suggest an agreement will call for a percentage -- based on adjusted gross revenues generated from online and other digital media distribution streams -- to be paid to directors. The WGA is insisting on a percentage of gross revenues and is also insisting that writers be paid residuals from their work on reality programming. If the Directors Guild and producers reach agreement, it will define a formula for consideration by the WGA and place increased pressure on the writers to either accept or reject the formula for themselves. Off the record, several studio and network executives say the leadership of the WGA will need to be replaced before a settlement can be reached. Conversely, the writers believe the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producersis simply refusing to negotiate in good faith. Agreement between directors and producers will place pressure not only on the WGA leadership but also on the Screen Actors Guild, whose contract is also up in June and who will need to determine if the Directors' agreement represents a template for their own negotiations. If Directors fail to reach agreement with network and studio executives, it promises a complete collapse of the traditional Hollywood power structure. For the traditional Fall TV season and Upfront to be maintained, settlement must be reached in the next two to three weeks. Network executives contacted by JackMyers Media Business Reportare not expecting an early settlement with the WGA and are already planning significantly different approaches to their annual Upfront programming presentations.

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