WGA, AMPTP return to the table; rumors of hope



The Writers Guild of America (WGA) resumed contract negotiations with network and studio representatives of the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television (AMPTP) producers yesterday amid some optimism that the pickets and protests over the last three weeks, recent friendly emails from the networks and studios to striking employees and ongoing backchannel talks, might find a quick solution.

LA Weekly’s Nikki Finke was optimistic: "a very reliable source tells me that there appears to be a deal seemingly in place between both sides. ‘It’s already done, basically," the insider describes. That’s because of the weeks’ worth of groundwork by the Hollywood agents working the writers guild leadership on one side, and the studio and network moguls on the other. I was told not to expect an agreement this week.  But my source thought it was possible that the strike could be settled before Christmas."

The backchannel efforts, reports Finke, included a secret meeting at Creative Artists Agency partner Bryan Lourd’s home between WGA president Patric Verrone and chief WGA negotiator Dave Young with Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger and News Corp. Peter Chernin, and others. At the same time, United Talent Agency’s Jim Berkus was talking to AMPTP president Nick Counter.

Nonetheless, even the best case scenario could take several days to craft a new deal-one that would be a great Christmas present for so many in the biz and associated industries. An estimated 50 TV shows and a handful of movies have stopped production since the strike began, throwing thousands out of work.