Writers Guild Contract Talks Collapse

By Christian
March 1, 2001 - 10:29 PM

The threat of a large writers' strike in Summer increased strongly today after contract talks broke down between film and television writers and their employers, the big Hollywood studios. According to a spokeswoman for the studios, the Writers Guild of America decided to suspend early negotiations. "We remain ready to negotiate at any time," she added.

However, the WGA apparently saw little use in continuing the negotiations, as the two sides remained very far apart on money issues. A guild official told the Hollywood Reporter that the talks broke off because the studios insisted on "rollbacks", but also because there was "very little movement in many areas, and nothing in some areas."

Official statements from both sides are expected later today, with a studio press conference scheduled for 2pm at Warner Bros., and a Writers Guild conference for 3:30pm.

Contract negotiations started in late January, when the Writers Guild set a two-week limit on the talks. This deadline was later dropped, and in February industry observers seemed to be optimistic that a strike could be avoided. Now that these talks have failed, that seems very unlikely.

The writers and the producers are expected to return to the bargaining table at least one final time before the current contract expires on the 1st of May, but that doesn't seem like something that will happen in the near future.

For Series V's scheduling, this is likely not good news. As evidenced by the recent news on the designers for the next series, pre-production is already well underway, and actual shooting was expected to begin in March or April. If strikes do occur, it would probably be possible to complete some of the next series' episodes before the actors also go on strike in July, but it's not certain whether Paramount would be able to get enough episodes in the can to ensure a good launch of the next show. Hopefully this will not lead to a delay for Series V.

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