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Jeffrey Katzenberg of Dreamworks
"We will make a deal"
 real 28k

Friday, 4 May, 2001, 09:49 GMT 10:49 UK
No end to strike talks
A supporter of the Writers Guild of America
A supporter of the WGA outside negotiations in LA
Talks between Hollywood writers and producers to avert a strike over pay have continued into Thursday night, two days after their old contract expired.

As evening came, representatives for the Writers' Guild of America (WGA) and the major studios broke into "special committees" to carry on negotiations which began on Tuesday.

The dispute is over issues including payment of residual fees to writers and increasing their creative control.
Cheryl Rhoden
Rhoden is "committed" to reaching an agreement

The deadline for meeting a resolution was set for 1 May. Since then, a news blackout has made it difficult to gauge the progress of the attempt at reaching an agreement.

"Both sides are still talking, and we are working very hard to reach an agreement," said WGA spokeswoman Cheryl Rhoden.

"Everyone is committed to spending the hours it takes to try and reach an agreement."

The next day session is due to start later on Friday.

Several studio big hitters joined the talks on Wednesday and Thursday.

Studio chiefs including Jeffrey Katzenberg of Dreamworks, Universal chairwoman Stacey Snider, Warner Bros president Alan Horn and CBS president Les Moonves were all briefed by negotiators.

They reportedly were there to take part in negotiations on the writers' demands for greater creative control and more respect in the production process.

They were not included in the discussions over the issue of writers being paid residual fees when films and TV programmes are repeated or released on video.

Possible ballot

Before the talks resumed in mid-April, the two sides were said to be $100m (70m) apart in their dispute over fees for repeats, video and DVD sales and transmission over new technologies.

The WGA 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 said a prolonged strike could cost the local economy $6.9bn (4.7bn) and put 100,000 jobs at risk.

Dreamworks executive Jeffrey Katzenberg
Katzenberg: Was briefed by negotiators
Two actors' unions could also walk out next month.

Contracts of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists end on 30 June.

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

The first shows to be hit would probably be late-night talk shows and daytime soaps.

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

Filming in Hollywood
Films have been stockpiled by studios
Films under threat if a strike takes place include Basic Instinct 2, Indiana Jones 4 and Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill.

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.

John Wells, president of the Writers' Guild's western unit, has demanded an average annual wage increase of about 3% for the guild's members, amounting to $99.7m over three years.

The producers alliance has said it cannot afford to meet all the writers' demands.

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

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

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See also:

04 May 01 | Film
UK actors threaten walk out
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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