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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 February 2008, 10:49 GMT
Writers to vote on ending strike
Striking writers picket in Hollywood
The Oscars are likely to go ahead if the deal is endorsed
US film and television writers are to vote in a ballot which could bring an end to a three-month long strike.

Writers Guild of America (WGA) members are expected to approve a deal struck by union leaders at the weekend and are likely to return to work on Wednesday.

Industrial action was sparked by a dispute over additional pay for work used on DVD or over the internet.

The strike has crippled TV and film production and led to the cancellation of the Golden Globe awards ceremony.

The deal, if ratified by guild members, should guarantee the Academy Awards ceremony will take place as planned on 24 February.

Industry hit

An Oscars spokesman told Reuters that the show would go ahead, but admitted it would be a "challenge" with "significantly less time" to prepare.

WGA members will vote in meetings to be held in New York and Los Angeles, and will cast their ballots in person or by proxy.

In the meantime, writers are still barred from working, while the formal approval of the details of the new contract could take up to two weeks.

WGA (west) president Patric Verrone
WGA West leader Patric Verrone announced the deal at the weekend

Some 10,500 writers stopped work on 5 November, a few days after their old contract with studios ended.

If writers return to work on Wednesday, the thousands of production staff who were put of out of work as scripts dried up will take weeks to mobilise while new material is prepared.

The strike has said to have cost Los Angeles' film and TV industry at least $650m (330m) in lost wages, with the wider economy losing over $1bn (508m). Studio executives say it would take about two months for new TV programmes to emerge.

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

Movies have been less severely affected because they have longer production times.

Two high-profile productions, the Da Vinci Code prequel Angels and Demons and Johnny Depp's Shantaram, could be up and running quickly.

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