April resumption of negotiations targeted, officials say

Nearly three weeks after breaking off contract talks, the Writers Guild of America may be close to setting a date for resuming negotiations with studios and nets.

Top WGA officials have said only that they plan to seek an April restart for the talks, which collapsed March 1 after six weeks of negotiations.

Several guild leaders and reps with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers met Monday and were due to meet again today as trustees of the union-industry health and pension plan, leading to speculation that a new date may emerge shortly.

Going for a deal

Both sides have insisted a deal can be reached without a strike, and many in Hollywood remain perplexed by the inability of negotiators to bridge the gap between the two sides — estimated at $82 million by the AMPTP and $102.4 million by the WGA for a three-year pact. The WGA’s current pact expires May 2.

The companies contend they have offered a $30 million hike overall and that the WGA is seeking a $112 million increase. The WGA maintains that the AMPTP’s offer amounts to a $2.7 million decrease while the Guild offer calls for a $99.7 million hike.

The WGA has held two town hall meetings for members, one in Los Angeles and one in Gotham, along with confabs for attorneys and agents. It plans to hold several more such meetings before resuming negotiations.

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