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Hollywood writers head back to work

February 13, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Screenwriters are going back to work Wednesday, one day after the Writers Guild of America voted overwhelmingly to end the bitter 14-week-old strike against movie studios and television networks.It's good news for Hollywood. With writers going back to work, production on TV shows and movies will resume. Soon viewers could start seeing new episodes of their favorite TV shows on the air.

The East Coast and West Coast writers voted Tuesday night to end the strike. The vote was overwhelming with 3,492 voting yes to end the strike and only 283 voting to stay off the job.

Now there will be a second vote by mail to ratify the new three-year contract.

Our motto was 'if you make money, we make money,'" said writer Steven Leiva. "What could be more fair than that?"

"I think this is the best contract that we could get under the circumstances. I think that we fought really hard for it and that it really sets us up for the future," said writer Robin Swicord.

Under the tentative agreement, writers would get a maximum flat fee of about $1,200 for programs streamed on the Internet in the deal's first two years and then get 2 percent of a distributor's gross in year three - a key union demand. They will also get increased residuals for movies and TV shows downloaded from the Internet.

The Writers Guild of America will also be given jurisdiction over content created specifically for the Web. And writers will receive a 3.5 percent increase in minimum pay rates each year for TV and film work.

"This was not a strike that we wanted but one that we had to conduct in order to win jurisdiction and establish appropriate residuals for writing in new media," said Patric Verrone, WGA West President.

Writers, however, didn't get everything they wanted. Provision to cover reality shows and feature animation was taken off the table, but that did get the negotiations back on track.

"I think that it was a well, it is a well crafted deal on all sides actually," said writer Carol Tenney. "You have to be practical in these matters and I think that our leadership properly prioritized what was most important."

Production will be stepped up over the next few weeks. First new scripts have to be completed, but viewers could start seeing new episodes on the air by the end of April.

The 100-day strike brought the entertainment industry to a standstill. It cost the local economy nearly $3 billion.

The Academy Awards will now go on as scheduled with actors in attendance. Most actors had said they would not cross picket lines, and now they won't have to.

You can watch the Oscars on ABC7 on Feb. 24.

 

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