The Writers' Strike: No End in Sight

Also: Justine Bateman sends an e-mail.

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Well, movie fans, the writers' strike is a month old. Are you enjoying it? Are you ready for more?

According to Variety, you'd better be -- as a report published yesterday makes painfully clear, there's no end in sight. Those re-opened negotiations from a week ago don't seem to have yielded much, unless you count trading public barbs as progress. For instance, as you'll no doubt recall, one of the core issues at the heart of the strike is compensation for streamed or downloaded media. The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers' latest offer, as per Variety's report, is "a fixed $250 annual payment on streaming video for one-hour network dramas -- without any additional compensation for use -- compared with the current $20,000 figure for TV reruns."

Writers Guild of America West president Patric Verrone, master of understatement, says "We have to get a better offer on the table."

There are signs of a resolution, even if you have to squint to see them. For example, the AMPTP took out an ad in yesterday's Daily Variety, using it as an opportunity to extend at least half an olive branch to the writers. From the article:

The AMPTP said its latest proposal isn't a "take-it-or-leave-it offer." The org continues, "It is designed to allow both sides to engage in the kind of substantive give-and-take negotiation that can lead to common ground. The WGA leadership asked for five days to respond. So with the ball in the WGA's court, we look forward to what they have to say when we meet today."

The tone is markedly different from the hardnosed stance the org used in many of its prior public letters. Notably absent is the finger-pointing that marked company execs' reactions in previous missives. And the execs' private frustration at the writers is substituted with a benign "We look forward to what they have to say."

Meanwhile, some members of the Screen Actors Guild have not forgotten that if not for a one-year extension agreed to by the SAG board in 2004, their deal would have expired along with the WGA's. As Variety puts it, "the WGA's taking the heat for what should have been SAG's battle." The report quotes from an e-mail by SAG board member Justine Bateman, who says:

"Ultimately, this is our strike...If the WGA had not called this strike, we would all be participating in massive stockpiling. Then, in June, when our contract expires, the AMPTP would have offered us the no-gains-play-your-work-for-free-and-how-bout-some-rollbacks offer we're now familiar with. And SAG would have to go on strike, but because of the stockpiling, we would have no leverage."

Source: Variety