End appears near for writers strike

LOS ANGELES A tentative agreement has been reached in the writers strike that could send writers back to work as soon as Wednesday.

The Writers Guild of America says it is the best contract that it has negotiated in the last 30 years. The contract isn't everything that the guild bargained for, but the guild's 12,000 members are ready to get back to work.

After three months of picket lines, lost wages, reruns, programming as we know it will soon get back to normal. The WGA has reached a tentative three-year contract with the major studios.

The strike had threatened to roll up the red carpet on Oscar night, but the show will go on.

"It was a significant issue that we wanted to get resolved, but we wanted to bargain, we wanted to go back to work for a long time now and we have a deal we think allows us to do that comfortably," said Patric Verrone, president of the guild's West Coast branch.

Verrone says the deal compensates writers for new content on new media. They'll also get higher residuals for existing internet downloads and reuse. The WGA will also get jurisdiction over projects created specifically for the Web.

The guild's major bargaining concession to studios was agreeing to take unionization of animation and reality TV shows off the table. The guild has said it still intends to pursue those goals.

After weeks of tuning out, viewers are looking forward to having their favorite shows back on the air.

"I was just watching pretty much reruns, I'm very excited to have the Daily Show and Colbert Report back," said Amber Scott, TV Viewer.

Other late night talk shows, including Jimmy Kimmel Live, will have their writers back immediately. Most primetime shows will probably be able to salvage what is left of the season.

"It'll take a little bit longer, several weeks for the primetime network shows, Desperate Housewives, Lost, etc. to get new episodes," said Verrone. "And then it will take even longer before the animated shows, like The Simpsons, to get their episodes back up and running."

Leaders of the WGA have unanimously recommended approval of the new contract and called for two elections.

Guild members will vote Tuesday night to officially call an end to the strike. Then in the next 10 days they'll be voting on the new contract by mail. If writers agree to end the walkout, they could be back to work as early as Wednesday morning.

So far there's no word from studios on the tentative contract. They say they won't comment until it has been officially ratified.


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