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Monday, 15 January, 2001, 12:52 GMT
Hollywood writers' strike 'inevitable'
Last year's actors strike
Elliott Gould (right) supported last year's actors' strike
Programming chiefs at the major Hollywood TV studios have said a writers' strike next summer looks inevitable.

Top production executives - including those at Warner Bros TV, Touchstone TV and Columbia Tristar TV - agreed that upcoming talks were unlikely to succeed.

The Writers Guild will meet the studios on 22 January, but both parties remain divided over pay and creative rights.


The sentiment about a strike is one of fear and very negative thoughts

Steve McPherson, Touchstone TV
The writers want to be allowed more involvement with the creative process but producers say this would be too expensive.

The guild's film/TV contract with the studios expires on 1 May.

Most people in Hollywood are braced for a writers' strike in May, as well as a stoppage by actors in June.

Warner Bros' Peter Roth slammed the "lemmings-like behaviour on both sides" and said a strike would be devastating.

"The impact is not simply with the numbers of jobs that would be lost, which is incalculable, and the impact on the economy of Los Angeles, which is also devastating," he said.

"The real impact is on the viewer. In 1988, (network TV) lost 9% of our audience following that strike.

"That was at a time when there was a triopoly of three networks. There weren't nearly as many alternatives for the viewer," Roth added.

Appetite

Actors are also expected to strike over pay when the actors' union contract with the studios expires on 30 June.

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

Ally McBeal
Hit shows such as Ally McBeal could be affected

These include producing more TV shows and films than usual over the last few months in order to stock up on as much work before action begins.

However, despite the growing pessimism, the studio heads - also including USA Networks' Studios USA, Artists Television Group and Regency Television - agreed there was little appetite for a strike on either side.

"Most of the people, whether they be writers or crew or executives, want to keep making shows," said Steve McPherson of Touchstone TV.

"They want to keep executing what they do - it's their passion," he added.

"The sentiment about a strike is one of fear and very negative thoughts about it."

The writers' strike - and possibly an actors' strike - would follow in the wake of last year's long-running walkout by commercial actors.

It led to ad production shutting down for virtually the entire summer and cost the industry millions of dollars in lost revenue.

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See also:

10 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Hollywood directors attack writers' demands
02 May 00 | Entertainment
US actors strike over fees
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