Studios, Writers Guild avert strike with last-minute deal

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Talks between the Writers Guild of America and AMPTP studio alliance went down to the wire Monday night but ultimately resulted in a three-year deal, averting a threatened walkout that could have cost jobs and homes, hit the California economy with a $200 million blow per week, accelerated cord-cutting and driven audiences off linear channels and onto digital platforms.

David Young, executive director of WGA West, confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that a deal had been reached. Leaving the closed-door meetings, Patric Verrone, who was WGA president last time the guild went on strike in 2007-2008, told THR it was a good deal for the writers. Michael Winship, president of Writers Guild East, echoed Verrone's comments and added that the union effectively mobilized the membership with the authorization.

 

The WGA and the AMPTP released a short joint statement early Tuesday morning confirming the length of the deal: "The Writers Guilds of America, West and East and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have concluded negotiations and have reached a tentative agreement on terms for a new three-year collective bargaining agreement."

 

The last Hollywood walkout lasted 100 days and cost the California economy an estimated $2.1 billion to $2.5 billion. This time, the parties managed to avoid a sequel and instead bridged their differences and the significant dollar gap that separated them.

 

It was not immediately clear how various issues were resolved, but sources earlier told THR that a host of issues remained in play. They included:

* Payment of overages when writers work longer on episodes of short-order series, an issue referred to as “span” because the crux of the matter is the time span that a writer spends working on a script.

* Limitations on holds and exclusivity—the practice of putting TV writers on ice, uncompensated, between seasons even on short-order series, where the smaller number of episodes mean that the writers are making less to begin with than on traditional network series.

* Script parity, the WGA demand that scripts for all platforms be subject to the same wage floors regardless of the production budget.

* Basic wage increases and “outsize increases,” the WGA insistence that a variety of categories of writer get extra-large salary increases.

* Cash infusions into the guild’s troubled health plan.

 

Details will emerge over the next days and weeks.—The Hollywood Reporter