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Lionsgate poised to sign interim writers pact

January 23, 2008 |  5:54 pm


Jumping on the bandwagon with other independent production companies, Lionsgate is on the verge of signing an interim agreement with the Writers Guild of America that is expected to be finalized in the next two days.

Based in Santa Monica, the publicly held entertainment outfit is behind such movie hits as the 2006 Oscar winner “Crash” and the “Saw” horror franchise, as well as the popular TV series “Mad Men” on AMC and “Weeds” on Showtime.

People close to the matter said Lionsgate was motivated to sign an interim deal to get rolling on its current TV shows, which also include the new NBC series “Fear Itself” and a planned small-screen version of “Crash" for Starz Encore.

If the deal concludes as expected, Lionsgate would join other independent companies that have recently signed agreements with the guild, including United Artists, the Weinstein Co., Spyglass Entertainment and David Letterman’s Worldwide Pants Inc.

Such deals, however, would be supplanted by any new contract that the writers sign with the studios. Talks between the parties resumed this week, raising hopes that an end to the 12-week-old strike is within sight.

The Writers Guild has hired entertainment attorney Alan Wertheimer to advise the union in its negotiations. Wertheimer, who helped negotiate the Worldwide Pants deal, represents screenwriters such as Eric Roth ("Munich") and guild board member Tom Schulman ("Dead Poets Society").

More news on the strike

-- Claudia Eller and Richard Verrier