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Report: Earnings for WGA screenwriters fell 10% in 2010

The story line was grim for most of Hollywood's screenwriters in 2010. Feature writers belonging to the Writers Guild of America, West reported earnings of $393 million last year, down 10% from the prior year and 25% below 2007's figure, according to an annual financial report from the guild released Friday.

The decline underscored the fact that there are fewer writers working at a time when studios have scaled back the number of feature films they are releasing. The number of screenwriters who reported earnings fell 13% ,to 1,615, last year compared with 2009, the report stated.   Wgalogo

The survey, however, offered some good news: Earnings for television writers grew 3% to $532.1 million, even as employment remained virtually flat at 3,142. That was 6% lower than the recent high employment level of 3,350 in 2007 and nearly 20% below the record high of 3,903 in 2000, the guild noted.

The Writers Guild attributed the higher TV earnings to an increase in residuals -- the payments talent receives when shows are rerun -- especially for basic cable, where residual income from reruns of shows such as AMC's "Mad Men" jumped 32.5% to $20.94 million.

Overall, residuals collected by the WGA, West in 2010 grew 10% to an all-time high of $315.8 million, reflecting the gains in cable TV, as well as big increases writers fetched from their movies and TV shows replaying in international markets.

Residuals from new media -- a battleground for the guild in the 100-day writers strike that ended in 2008 -- rose 24% to $2.63 million.

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WGA, West President John Wells won't run again

-- Richard Verrier

 
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