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Writers, studios said to have resolved key issues

February 2, 2008 |  4:16 pm

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Hollywood's striking writers and major studios have resolved their key differences in contract negotiations, moving them closer toward a final agreement that would end a 3-month-old walkout.

After two weeks of talks, the parties Friday bridged the gap on the central issues surrounding how much writers should be paid for work that is distributed via the Internet, said three people close to the talks who asked not to be identified because the negotiations are confidential.

A final contract could be presented to the Writers Guild of America's board by late next week, the people said.

Attorneys from studios and the guild were meeting over the weekend to discuss contract language for the proposed agreement, which would have to be ratified by the union's 10,500 members.

Representatives of the Writers Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents studios, declined to comment, citing a press blackout.

Writers began their strike Nov. 5 in a dispute largely over new-media pay.

Talks revived two weeks ago, after studios quickly negotiated a contract with directors.

The writers' agreement is modeled on the directors' pact, which doubles residual payments for films and TV shows sold online and secures the union's jurisdiction over shows created for the Internet.

Guild negotiators David Young, Patric M. Verrone and John Bowman are scheduled to brief the union's negotiating committee on the proposed deal Monday.

Writers and studios alike have confronted heavy pressure to find a way to end a strike that has cost thousands of workers their jobs, threatened the upcoming television season and kept in limbo the Academy Awards show Feb. 24.

A number of top writers, including several members of the Writers Guild's negotiating committee, have viewed the directors' pact as a flawed but workable model for their own agreement and had strongly conveyed that message to guild leaders.

Many writers, however, complained that the directors' contract offered meager residuals on shows that were streamed on advertising-supported websites and limited the union’s jurisdiction over shows created for the Web. Progress in the talks suggested that studios may have improved the terms for writers in those areas.

More news on the strike


-- Richard Verrier

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