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Wednesday, 10 January, 2001, 11:59 GMT
Hollywood directors attack writers' demands
Actors March, Hollywood 2000
Studios could face disruptions like in last year's actors' strike
The Directors Guild of America has told Hollywood writers, who are threatening to strike, that they are wrong to seek wider "creative rights" from studios.

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) is about to start negotiations with studios and TV networks over new contracts due to start in May.

But their counterparts in the Directors Guild say the writers' demands, aimed to get their members more involved with the creative process, would be too expensive.

Directors Guild president Jack Shea told his members they would "wreak havoc with the film-making process".

But writers disagree.

The WGA's western president John Wells - executive producer of hits shows ER and The West Wing - said: "We believe that writers can be helpful in assisting the director and the studios in helping to contain costs, as the writer oftentimes knows the material better than anyone."

Cast of ER
Writers on shows like ER admit to mistreating directors

The threat of strike action has been looming over Hollywood for a year, and studios and network have already been making contingency plans in case writers walk out.

Mr Shea said: "In the next few months, the studios will be pressured from many sides to settle with the WGA, but we must make sure the studios know a strike can't be avoided at any cost."

Last October the WGA published a list of 42 demands, aimed at the inclusion of their members in the movie-making process.

They want writers to stay in employment while filming is taking place, and elimination of the possessory credit - "a film by..." - from movies, which is often the cause of disputes.

Instead directors have asked for a "code of preferred practices" to resolve these issues.

The writers have not responded to this proposal, although they did ask their members to improve their behaviour toward directors of TV series, admitting that such directors are often mistreated by writers.

Last year saw a six-month long strike by Hollywood actors, who boycotted commercials in a row over payments for work on cable TV and the internet.

British actress Liz Hurley was fined 70,000 by the Screen Actors Guild for breaking the strike to film a commercial for a cosmetics company.

See also:

23 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Break-through in actors' strike
27 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Tiger angers striking actors
02 May 00 | Entertainment
US actors strike over fees
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