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Tuesday, 19 September, 2000, 12:34 GMT 13:34 UK
Hollywood fears writers' strike
Olympia Dukakis, talks with Richard Dreyfuss, and Celeste Holm
Hollywood wants to avoid a repeat of the screen actor's strike
Hollywood studios are trying to encourage screenwriters to commence contract talks, as fears loom of a strike next summer.

Film and television producers are hoping to get together next month with the screenwriters' union, the Writers Guild of America, to renegotiate contracts before the current arrangement expires next May.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, an umbrella group which negotiates on behalf of producers, expects talks to commence in October, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Hollywood studios want to avoid damaging strike action of the kind seen in the ongoing dispute between two actors' unions and the advertising industry, now in its 21st week.

Potential threat

Talks are continuing in an effort to solve that dispute.

Both the actors' and writers' unions feel their members have not received fair payments for TV shows and films in the booming cable and overseas markets.

The existing Writers Guild pact, which covers work performed for producers, the major television networks and studios, runs until 1 May 2001.

The Screen Actors Guild contract with the TV and film industry expires two months later, and Hollywood executives are bracing themselves for simultaneous work stoppages by the two unions.

A basic fact of show business is no show, no business

Dick Wolf, NBC
"Many people have been working behind the scenes to avoid a major problem next year," spokesman for the producers' alliance, Nick Counter said.

Television producer Dick Wolf of NBC said a prolonged strike could mean "the end of network television as we know it."

"A strike will be an unmitigated disaster for the industry. A basic fact of show business is no show, no business," he said.

Bypassing writers

Some studios and producers have already been operating under strike conditions.

Projects that cannot begin shooting by December or January have been postponed amid fears that they may not be completed before a strike.

In addition some producers and networks have been stockpiling extra scripts, speeding up series production and developing more reality-based shows, bypassing their reliance on writers.

But some in the industry, such as Writers Guild president John Wells, a writer-producer on the hospital drama ER, fear that any dispute could be worsened by such action.

He has argued that producers are engendering a false sense of security by stockpiling scripts.

The last WGA strike, in 1988, lasted five months and delayed the start of the autumn television schedule.

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See also:

14 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Strikers attract star support
12 Sep 00 | Entertainment
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03 Aug 00 | Entertainment
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06 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Talks urged in actors' strike
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