Tentative Writers Deal Will be For 3 Years

The Writers Guild of America says the tentative deal reached early Tuesday will cover its television and film writers for three years if ratified by its members.

The guild released a one-sentence statement confirming the deal and its length. There were no details on the terms of the agreement, or how it addressed compensation and health care issues that had been the major sticking points of this contract’s negotiations.

The deal’s announcement came more than 90 minutes after the previous contract expired. Pickets could have started Tuesday morning, immediately sending late night talk shows into reruns and eventually impacting scripted series and feature films in development.

The previous writers’ strike occurred nearly 10 years ago and gradually took a wider toll on Hollywood TV and movie production and the California economy.  (AP)


TV Academy: All Emmys to be Presented Live

The television academy is scrapping its “time-shifting” plans and will present all 28 Emmy Awards during the September telecast.

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced last month that it would pre-tape eight awards presentations and acceptance speeches, including some in the writing category. Members of the Writers Guild of America blasted the academy for the plan in a letter signed by some of the top TV showrunners.

The academy says the decision was made to “mend relationships within the television community” and allow the telecast producer to focus on “creative elements” during the live show.

The 61st Primetime Emmy Awards will air at 8 p.m. Sept. 20 on CBS.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

Emmy Format Shift Angers Writers

1emmy_award_lg.jpgThe Emmy awards announced Thursday plans for a change in the format of the ceremony. Eight of the 28 Emmy categories will be pre-taped, in order to shave minutes off the lengthy program time. Two of the categories excluded from the ceremony are for writing, and given that there are only four writing categories in the Emmys to start with, There’s understandably some resentment. More than 100 television writers have signed a letter protesting the changes. James Hibberd at The Hollywood Reporter has the letter, and further details:

We, the undersigned showrunners and executive producers of television’s current line-up of programs, oppose the Academy of Television Arts and Science’s decision to remove writing awards from the live telecast. This decision conveys a fundamental understatement of the importance of writers in the creation of television programming and a symbolic attack on the primacy of writing in our industry. We implore ATAS to restore these awards to their rightful place in the live telecast of the 2009 Emmy Awards.


WGA Strike Fallout Still Felt One Year Later

A year after the Writers Guild of America strike ended, the fallout is still being felt, as conglomerates continue to cut costs and writers face reductions in post-strike script fees, Daily Variety reports. Other effects of the strike include a primetime development business that’s still recovering from the disruption and the uncertainty facing the Screen Actors Guild, which has slowed down this year’s film business, the trade publication says. The Writers Guild of America West also continues to review taking disciplinary action against Jay Leno for his “Tonight Show” monologues delivered while the guild was on strike, Variety reports.

Study: $2.1B Price Tag on Hollywood Writers Strike

A new report finds the Hollywood writers strike could end up costing the state’s economy an estimated $2.1 billion.

The study, released Thursday by the Milken Institute, also finds a projected net loss of 37,700 jobs directly and indirectly tied to the entertainment industry.

The report says although the strike ended in February, effects of the walkout are still rippling across California’s economy.

Many of those who lost their jobs were not hired back and the strike’s effect was magnified further because those who lost their jobs cut back on their spending.

Several businesses that service the industry also were squeezed.


(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Remembering a Hollywood Legend

From the Associated Press:

Oscar-winning director Sydney Pollack died of cancer yesterday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 73.
Though previously nominated for directing “They Shoot Horses Don’t They” and directing and producing “Tootsie,” Pollack finally won Oscars for directing and producing “Out of Africa” with Meryl Streep and Robert Redford.
Pollack got an Oscar nomination this year for producing “Michael Clayton,” where he was on screen as George Clooney’s boss. Among many other roles, Sydney Pollack acted opposite Tom Cruise in “Eyes Wide Shut.”

On TV, he played Eric McCormack’s father in “Will and Grace.”

Pollack’s latest movie, “Made of Honor,” where he plays Patrick Dempsey’s father, is in theaters now.


Photo courtesy of Getty Images


Strike Ends; Desperate Housewives Continue to Be Naughty!

The AP urgent that came across the wires last night:

BC-APNewsAlert,0045LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Writers Guild of America says its members have voted to end their strike.(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

APNP-02-12-08 1852PST


From the Los Angeles Times this morning:


Hollywood writers strike ends

Family matters

Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times
FAMILY MATTERS: Writer Greg Fields lets 3-year-old son Caelan cast his ballot at the Writers Guild of America Theater.
After 100 days, WGA members vote overwhelmingly to go back to work.
By Claudia Eller and Richard Verrier, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
February 13, 2008
The strike is over.Hollywood’s costly 100-day walkout came to a widely welcomed end Tuesday after members of the Writers Guild of America voted overwhelmingly to go back to work.

‘Writers got hard-fought and well earned improvements, but it could be tougher sledding for the rank and file in the future.’
Steven Beer, entertainment attorney

More than 90% of the 3,775 writers who cast ballots in Los Angeles and New York voted to immediately end the work stoppage, capping the entertainment industry’s most contentious labor dispute in recent history.

“Rather than being shut out of the future of content creation and delivery, writers will lead the way as TV migrates to the Internet and platforms for new media are developed,” said Patric M. Verrone, president of the WGA, West.

On Feb. 25, writers are expected to ratify a new three-year contract that ensures them a stake in the revenue generated when their movies, television shows and other creative works are distributed on the Internet. Whether the benefits from the new contract will be enough to offset the income writers and others lost because of the strike is a matter of debate.

Steven Beer, an entertainment attorney at Greenberg Traurig, predicted that working writers may have fewer opportunities as studios use the strike as a means to cut programming budgets, greenlight fewer pilots, reduce fees and limit the number of production deals on their lots.

“Writers got hard-fought and well-earned improvements, but it could be tougher sledding for the rank and file in the future,” he said.

Other experts believe the writers won a victory that transcends any financial gains.

“It was a defining moment,” said economist Harley Shaiken, a professor at UC Berkeley who specializes in labor issues. “It showed that a very disparate group of individuals could act with real solidarity — and that packed real economic power.”

The walkout, which began Nov. 5, proved to be far more economically damaging than the studios had expected, shutting down more than 60 TV shows, hampering ratings and depriving the networks of tens of millions in advertising dollars.

Labor experts said the crippling effect of the strike helped writers achieve gains they might not have otherwise attained.

The new contract gives them residual payments for shows streamed over the Internet and secures the union’s jurisdiction for programming created for the Web.

“They successfully faced down six multinational media conglomerates and established a beachhead on the Internet,” said Jonathan Handel, former associate counsel for the Writers Guild of America, West and an attorney at TroyGould. “When you consider what they were initially offered and the enormous odds they faced, that’s quite an achievement.”

Handel noted that studios had originally balked at writers’ demands for new-media residuals, proposing a multiyear study instead.

Yet the new contract falls short of what writers were initially seeking.

“It’s a good deal but not a great one,” said Handel, adding that both sides made key compromises.

For example, writers received guarantees that any guild member hired to create original shows for the Web would be covered under a union contract. But the tentative contract enables studios to hire nonunion writers to work on low-budget Internet shows, giving them the flexibility they sought to compete in the burgeoning world of Web entertainment.

The writers agreement was largely patterned after a recent deal studios made with directors. Writers, however, got some important improvements, especially in pay for shows that are streamed on advertising-supported websites.

Writers were unsuccessful, however, in their efforts to shorten the 17-to-24-day window that studios have to stream their shows for promotional purposes without paying residuals. Many writers complained that most viewers watched repeats online within days after a program was initially broadcast.

With the strike now over, economists are tallying up the cost to the industry and the Los Angeles region. Measuring the financial losses is inherently difficult and estimates vary widely.

Jack Kyser, chief economist for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., estimates the walkout cost the local economy more than $3 billion. Of that total, an estimated $772 million came from lost wages for writers and production workers, $981 million from various businesses that service the industry, including caterers and equipment rental houses, and $1.3 billion from the ripple effect of consumers not spending as much at retail shops, restaurants and car dealers.

Still, the total is relatively small considering that the L.A. economy generates $1.3 billion a day.

The entertainment industry employs about 250,000 in the Los Angeles region, including thousands who are self-employed.