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Writers going back to the table, sources say

January 18, 2008 |  6:42 pm

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Spurred by the day-old employment contract negotiated by the Directors Guild, Hollywood's writers and the major studios agreed Friday to resume their negotiations in hopes of reaching an agreement that would end the 11-week-old strike, according to several people close to the matter.

Writers Guild of America leaders plan to meet as early as Monday with News Corp. President Peter Chernin and possibly other studio chiefs, reviving talks that fell apart early last month, these people said.

Representatives of the Writers Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the studios, declined to comment on the meeting.

But in an interview Friday, Writers Guild of America President Practic M. Verrone acknowledged that his union was ready to re-engage.

“Everyone wants us to get back into negotiations, and that’s what we intend to do,” Verrone said.
Verrone declined to give his assessment of the DGA deal, saying guild officials were still studying its contents. The guild’s negotiating committee will meet Saturday to discuss the directors' contract and make recommendations to Verrone and Executive Director David Young on how to proceed in their upcoming negotiations.

Though the directors' deal falls short of what the writers were seeking, it generally received positive reviews from several negotiating committee members and top writers.

“I’m really impressed how mindful the DGA was that the deal had to be good enough to put the whole town back to work,’’ said writer-director Scott Frank (“Minority Report,” “The Interpreter”), a member of the Writers Guild board. “They were under enormous pressure and they seemed to have delivered.”

--Richard Verrier and Claudia Eller

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