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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 February 2008, 10:12 GMT
Q&A: Hollywood writers' strike
Hollywood Walk of Fame
The row was over work used on DVDs and online

The three-month strike by US film and TV writers is over at last. Why did they take industrial action, though, and how long will it take for things to get back to normal?

WHO WENT ON STRIKE?

The 12,000 members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA), the official union representing writers in the film, TV and new media industries.

The last major WGA strike in 1988 lasted 22 weeks, costing the industry an estimated $500m (250m).

The current writers' strike began on 5 November 2007 and is estimated to have cost Los Angeles' film and TV industry around $733m (374m), with the wider economy losing around $1.3bn (663m).

WHY DID THEY STRIKE?

Writers' strike
Film and TV writers walked off the job in November 2007
Writers wanted a new contract with film and TV studios that gave them more money when their work got sold on DVD or downloaded or streamed online.

Their last contract expired on 31 October 2007. Writers receive payments, called residuals, every time something they have written is repeated on television or sold on DVD.

But no agreement could be reached about residuals for shows when they were made available online. As a result, talks collapsed in December.

WHO WAS AFFECTED?

Late-night talk shows, which rely on writers for their scripts and jokes, were the first to go off air in November.

Production also stopped on all sitcoms and prime-time dramas - Ugly Betty, Desperate Housewives and The Office were just some of the shows forced to shut down.

A number of high-profile film projects were also sidelined, while thousands of off-camera crew were put out of work.

DID EVERYTHING GRIND TO A HALT?

David Letterman
David Letterman grew a beard for his return to TV
No. The WGA reached an interim agreement with David Letterman's production company in December, which meant his shows came back on air complete with writing team.

A similar agreement was reached with Tom Cruise's film company United Artists, the Weinstein Company and other independent producers.

Film studios producing Rambo, Saw 5 and The Incredible Hulk were among other companies to reach a deal with striking screenwriters.

Many TV networks also looked at different ways of filling their schedules - using content such as reality TV, news, repeats and imported programmes.

WERE AWARD CEREMONIES AFFECTED?

Academy Awards preparations
The Oscars ceremony is expected to go ahead as normal
Yes. The Golden Globes was replaced by a press conference after the Screen Actors Guild, representing Hollywood stars, said its members would not cross writers' picket lines.

The People's Choice Awards was also scaled down, with the usual gala replaced by a pre-recorded telecast.

There were fears that the Oscars would be affected. Now the strike has been resolved, though, the ceremony is expected to go ahead as normal.

WHAT HAS BEEN AGREED?

Basically, a compromise. Rather than getting residual payments every time their work is distributed over the internet, writers will receive a percentage of the profits generated.

However, compensation will not begin until after a window of between 17 to 24 days deemed "promotional" by the studios.

The WGA also gave up some of its demands, including one that writers working on reality shows should be represented by the Guild.

Overall, though, the Guild was able to get a slightly better deal than a similar one negotiated by the Directors Guild of America in January.

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE FOR THINGS TO RETURN TO NORMAL?

Studio executives say it will take about two months for new TV programmes to emerge.

They will also have to decide which of the 65 affected series will come back, with hits like House, CSI, Grey's Anatomy and Desperate Housewives likely to get priority.

Doubts have been raised over whether newer shows that have struggled to find an audience - among them Bionic Woman, starring Britain's Michelle Ryan - will resume production.

Sketch show Saturday Night Live has already announced it plans to return on 23 February.

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