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Movie and T.V. writers on STRIKE!!!

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  • Movie and T.V. writers on STRIKE!!!

    LOS ANGELES - Television and movie screen writers said Thursday they would go on strike for the first time in nearly 20 years in a dispute over royalties.

    Four writers told The Associated Press that Writers Guild of America President Patric Verrone made the announcement in a closed-door session, drawing loud cheers from the crowd.

    “There was a unified feeling in the room. I don’t think anyone wants the strike, but people are behind the negotiation committee,” said Dave Garrett, screen writer for the movie “Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo.”

    Writers said the guild board would meet Friday to formally call a strike and decide when it would start. They said guild members would be told Friday afternoon.

    Nick Counter, president of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, said in a statement the alliance was not surprised by the action.

    “We are ready to meet and are prepared to close this contract this weekend,” he said.

    Officials had called a meeting of the union’s 12,000 members for Thursday night.

    Guild members recently authorized their negotiators to call the first strike since 1988, if necessary.

    Writers said the line of questioning inside the meeting wasn’t whether the group was going to strike, but how it would be carried out. The mood was subdued as writers filed out of the building.

    Janis Hirsch, a veteran TV writer, was among the 10 percent who voted against striking.

    “It’s sad, but I’ve got to support my union. At this point it makes sense,” she said.

    Many writers said that beyond royalties, respect was at stake. They said they had never commanded the same clout in the entertainment industry as actors and directors.

    “I don’t think it’s something we can negotiate for,” said Paul Guay, who co-wrote the movies “Liar, Liar” and “Heartbreakers.” “What we can negotiate for is money. How we assess respect and worth in this town is money.”

    The first casualty of the strike will likely be late-night talk shows, which are dependent on current events to fuel monologues and other entertainment.

    The strike will not immediately affect film or prime-time TV production. Most studios have stockpiled dozens of movie scripts, and TV shows have enough scripts or completed shows in hand to last until early next year.

    The key financial issue in the talks involves changing the formula for paying writers a share of DVD revenue, then applying the same equation to money made from material offered over the Internet and other digital platforms.

    Studios, represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, are dead set against increasing DVD royalties.

    Writers and actors have been fighting for years to reverse what they see as a huge mistake made at the dawn of home video, when no one was sure if selling movies on VHS cassettes would ever make money.

    The unions agreed to ignore the first 80 percent of revenue from the tapes and later DVDs, assuming most of the money represented the cost of manufacturing and distribution.

    Writers settled for just 1.2 percent of the remaining 20 percent, a figure that amounts to about 3 cents on a DVD that retails for $20.

    Writers are now asking for their share to be calculated on 40 percent of revenue and argue the same formula should be used for digital distribution because studios have almost no costs associated with that technology.

    Consumers are expected to spend $16.4 billion on DVDs this year, according to Adams Media Research.

    By contrast, studios could generate about $158 million from selling movies online and about $194 million from selling TV shows over the Web.

    “Every incremental window of distribution has added revenue and profitability to the business model,” said Anthony DiClemente, an entertainment analyst for Lehman Brothers Equity Research. “Digital is likely to be a positive thing for the studios.”

    Studios argue that it is too early to know how much money they can make from offering entertainment on the Internet, cell phones, iPods and other devices.

    Producers are uncertain whether consumers prefer a pay-per-view model over an advertising-supported system. They want the economic flexibility to experiment as consumer habits change in reaction to technology.

    The negotiations had revolved as much around emotions as economics, said Doug Wood, a partner with the law firm of Reed Smith who has negotiated with actors on behalf of advertising agencies.

    “The industry negotiates form logic, and the creative community negotiates from emotion,” he said. “Trying to understand those differences on both sides of the table is a big challenge in any of these negotiations.”

  • #2
    This resulted in Heroes Origins being canceled.

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    • #3
      I say more power to them. One of the reasons reality tv shows continue to be prolific is that they don't require writers, that is they don't need to pay for writers. That's a lot of unavailable work/opportunities for people.

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      • #4
        T.V writers on strike??? NOOO! Now there will be nothing but reality shows and mindless gameshows....oh wait....

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