Writers Guild of America ends strike

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Writers Guild had been on strike since November 5.

Hollywood writers have voted to end a three-month strike that crippled film and television production.

Yesterday, Patric Verrone, president of the Writers Guild of America West, said they will end the 100-day strike. "The membership has voted. Writers can go back to work," Verrone said.

Nearly 3800 members of the guild, both the east and west coast unions cast their ballots in New York City and Los Angeles, with more than 92 percent voting to end the strike. The writers will be back to work today and new episodes of televisions series should come as early as four to six weeks.

The strike occurred over the streaming of television, movies and other creative work over the Internet and how writers should be paid for that content. Under a tentative agreement, the writers would get a maximum flat fee of $1,200 per program in the first two years, then two percent of a distributor's gross revenue in the third year.

The strike ended after entertainment company heads including, Leslie Moonves, the CEO of CBS, Peter Chernin, the president of News Corporation and Robert A. Iger, the CEO of The Walt Disney Company and union officials such as Verrone and executive director David Young worked out a deal.

Moonves said the deal was a fair one, according to the Associated Press. When speaking to the entertainment publication Variety, he said, "I think there was some miscommunication early on. It was important that we started speaking eye to eye. Ultimately, getting the percentage of streaming revenue was important to (WGA), and I understand it."

The end to the strike means Hollywood's annual celebration, the Academy Awards, can go ahead as scheduled, February 24. The threat of picketing writers had reduced the Golden Globes last month to a news conference. Sid Ganis, the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the executive producer of this year's 80th Academy Awards, Gil Cates, will hold a news conference today to reveal their plans for the award show since there will not a be picket line in front of the Kodak Theatre where the award show will be held.

The strike stopped production of dozens of television shows and slowed production on movies. One Los Angeles economist says it cost the local economy at least $3 billion. However, the city of Los Angeles believed losses to only be around $380 million.