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Thursday, 8 February, 2001, 14:56 GMT
Fox reveals Hollywood strike plan
Gil Bellows and Calista Flockhart
Ally McBeal could help Fox fill the gap in shows
America's Fox TV network has revealed its contingency plans to deal with possible strikes by Hollywood writers and actors.

Episodes of popular comedies are being stockpiled and producers are ready to make new editions of hits like Ally McBeal to get the network through any industrial action.

Members of the Writers' Guild of America are in talks with producers over terms for new contracts, which are due to start in May.

Meanwhile, the Screen Actors' Guild's contracts end on 1 July, but it has yet to start talks with producers.

Both groups want a greater share of profits from cable TV re-runs, as well as more money from their work being used on the internet and other new technologies.

'Aggressive'

"We've been working on this for probably close to a year already, and trying to be very aggressive because the one part of the company we are concerned about, quite honestly, is the broadcast division," News Corp president Peter Chernin said.

Rupert Murdoch
Rupert Murdoch has been involved in drawing up plans
While films generally take a year to produce, America's TV networks - and their all-important autumn schedules - are most at risk from disruption because most of their shows are rehearsed and transmitted within two weeks.

Senior Fox executives, including chairman Rupert Murdoch, have been involved in drawing up a contingency plan.

If a writers' strike is delayed to coincide with an actors strike in July, then Peter Chernin said four to eight episodes of Ally McBeal or That '70s Show - seen in the UK on Channels 4 and 5 respectively - could be made.

Baseball

In any case, 22 episodes of comedy Family Guy have been saved, as well as a series of The Tick. A new show from comedy writer Steve Levitan, who created Just Shoot Me, has also been saved.

Extra baseball coverage - which Fox has the rights to - and shows from other contries are also under consideration.

"My guess is we'd be in extremely good shape, probably through at least January," he said.

Meanwhile, Disney president Bob Iger said it was prepared to maintain "what we think will be a competitive schedule" for its ABC network.

Officials from both companies said they were confident a strike would be averted.

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06 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Hope for Hollywood strike talks
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