Writers, film/television studios pick up on talks

Although the writer’s strike in Hollywood has been going on since Nov. 5, viewers may catch a break from their favorite TV series being put on hiatus: writers and major film and television studios have agreed to resume talking next week.

The writers were striking over residuals from Internet, cell phone, podcast and new media use of the TV shows and movies they write. Basically, they are demanding more money.

The Writers Guild of America, which represents 12,000 striking writers, and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents major Hollywood studios such as Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox, and media giants Viacom and Disney, issued a joint statement over the past weekend saying that talks would resume November 26. However, since then, there has been no word as to the progress of the talks and negotiations.

Late-night television hosts like David Letterman, Jay Leno and Jimmy Kimmel, as well as programs like “The Daily Show,” felt the pinch of the strike first. Because of their topical nature, networks do not typically shoot these shows in advance.

The Hollywood television industry generally shuts down during the holidays for Christmas and New Years. However, if some negotiation isn’t made, the TV shows might not make a comeback in the following year.

Shows like “Heroes,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “House” and “Desperate Housewives” are running out of new material, and with writers busy scripting their next picket signs, who will be there to tell us how the world is saved or who will sleep with who next?

This strike is not only affecting the production of shows, but is also affecting the lower-paid positions that are needed for a production. Cameramen, electricians, set decorators, caterers, drivers and many more have been laid off due to the sudden halt in production.

So, what do the viewers have to look forward to if a settlement isn’t reached soon? Lots, and lots of reality shows are looking to take the time slots of our returning programs. “American Idol” is set to make a comeback in January 2008 and is not facing much competition.

The last WGA strike, 20 years ago, lasted five and a half months. It cost the entertainment industry an estimated $500 million.

Writers, viewers and Hollywood industries alike should hope for a quick settlement.

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