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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 February 2008, 07:29 GMT
Writers prepare to return to work
By Peter Bowes
BBC News, Los Angeles

Striking writers
The 100-day walkout brought Hollywood to a standstill
Hollywood screenwriters are heading back to work after voting by an overwhelming majority to end their three-month strike.

Members of the Writers Guild of America were balloted in New York and Los Angeles on whether to accept a new contract with the Hollywood studios.

It means the entertainment industry will begin to get back to normal following a costly period of inactivity - the most damaging period of industrial action to hit Hollywood in 20 years.

It has been estimated that the strike cost the Los Angeles economy in excess of $1.5bn (766m).

Peter Bellwood
British writer Peter Bellwood joined the picket lines in Los Angeles
"I'm very happy about it," said Peter Bellwood, a British writer based in California.

"I feel very relieved that the strike is over, particularly for a lot of young people who are really working from pay cheque to pay cheque - not to mention all the below the line people, everybody that is part of this industry.

"The loss of money is huge. Everybody can get back to work and the industry can slowly gear up again."

'Hardship'

The new contract ensures that writers will receive a share of the profits from movies and TV shows when they are distributed over the internet.

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

"I feel good," said Marc Zicree, a veteran TV writer.

"It definitely was worth the hardship because the Writers Guild will have jurisdiction over the internet.

Ugly Betty
Production on shows like Ugly Betty ground to a halt
"We got residuals, we got a number of the things we were fighting for so it was time well spent."

Mr Zicree directed and co-wrote the new Star Trek episode, Star Trek New Voyages: World Enough And Time, which was released exclusively via the internet.

"Millions of people have seen it around the world, there's no broadcast media, no studio, no network involved and yet it's getting an audience equivalent to a television series," he said.

"There's a great possibility with the internet and with cell phones and all of these wonderful new media, so I think it's an exciting future."

While much of Hollywood ground to a standstill during the strike, the city rallied around the writers. The actors union was particularly supportive.

"One of the things that touched me deeply was the solidarity of writers all over the world - it was heartening," said Mr Bellwood.

"I think there was a feeling of all of us in it together and recognising that it was a very important issue," added Mr Zicree.

Oscars

Oscar statuette
The Oscars ceremony could have been cancelled amid the strike
Even through the writers are poised to return to work, it will take several months for Hollywood to resume full-scale production of TV shows. Most primetime dramas and sitcoms are expected to return in April.

The first visible sign that the entertainment world is putting aside all the bitterness and upheaval of the past 3 months will be an Academy Awards show, with all the usual red carpet glitz and star-power.

The writers had been threatening to picket the Oscars on February 24, but now it will be business as usual.

"I think everybody's going to be very happy that the Oscars get to go on and I think it will be an enormous celebration," said Mr Bellwood.

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