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The BBC's David Campanale
"The talks have been held under a strict news blackout"
 real 56k

The BBC's Rosie Millard
"It is a cliffhanger worthy of a Hollywood movie"
 real 56k

Screenwriter Charles Pogue
"We just want our fair cut"
 real 56k

Steve Gaydos, Editor of Variety Magazine
"The impact on Hollywood right now is devastating"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 2 May, 2001, 07:36 GMT 08:36 UK
Hollywood strike talks extended
Film crew on streets
Productions have been rushed through to beat strike
The threat of an immediate Hollywood strike subsided on Wednesday as screenwriters extended the deadline for reaching a new deal with the major studios.


We're working very hard to reach an agreement - that's it

Writers' Guild spokeswoman
The exisiting contract expired at midnight (0700 GMT).

A spokeswoman for the Writers' Guild of America (WGA) told the BBC that no new deadline had been set and that the two sides would continue their discussions into the night in the hope of reaching an agreement.

A strict news blackout surrounds the talks, which are focused on a demand for better pay.

Key sticking points include residuals - the monies writers receive when their work is repeated on cable TV and in foreign markets - and payments from video and DVD sales.

"At this hour the talks are continuing, and we're working very hard to reach an agreement - that's it," said the WGA's Cheryl Rhoden shortly after the deadline passed.

She added that the guild's contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents the studios and networks, had not been extended.

If the talks fail then screenwriters will be balloted on strike action.

A strike would effectively put a stop to new productions in Hollywood as very few scripts are kept in reserve.

Ballot

The actors' union is expected to follow suit unless a similar financial claim against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers is settled.

Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan
LA Mayor Richard Riordan has warned of a Hollywood recession
The first shows to be hit would probably be late-night talk shows and day-time soaps.

The Writers' Guild has not yet balloted its 11,500 members for strike action - a necessary step before any strike can take place - allowing writers to continue working.

Last week Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan released a study showing that a prolonged strike could cost the local economy $6.9bn (4.7bn) and put 100,000 jobs at risk.

Screenwriters are also demanding that directors drop the "A film by..." credit, which they argue relegates their job to a lower position.

Production scramble

Studios have been rushing to finish as many TV and film projects as possible.

Film crew member adjusts lights
A writers' strike would hit production crews early on
Films under threat include Basic Instinct 2, Indiana Jones 4 and Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill.

Morrie Goldman, of LA's Entertainment Industry Development Corporation, said there had been "a definite increase" in on-location film and television productions.

Some 160 productions were being shot on the streets of Los Angeles in the run-up to the talks deadline.

"Right now the studios have enough movies to take them through next February or March," said Jack Valenti of the Motion Picture Association of America.

But those working at the planning stage of production are feeling the pinch.

Everyone from grips and cameramen to truck drivers and caterers will have little to do if no films or TV shows are being made.

The last strike by Hollywood writers, in 1998, lasted five months.

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See also:

02 May 01 | Film
Scriptwriters seek 'respect'
30 Apr 01 | Film
Reality TV in the wings
16 Apr 01 | TV and Radio
Top TV writers back union
06 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Hollywood strike could hit UK
08 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Fox reveals Hollywood strike plan
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