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RKO signs WGA interim deal

It's the 13th such deal announced

The striking Writers Guild of America has signed another interim deal, penning a pact with RKO Pictures.

It’s the 13th such deal announced in the past month and comes a day after the guild signed similar agreements with Lionsgate and Marvel. The interim deals let the companies hire writers under the terms and conditions offered by the WGA before formal negotiations collapsed last month.

For the WGA, the deals are a way to gain leverage in persuading the congloms to resume formal talks by asserting that the terms are reasonable enough for the indies to accept.

The Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers has responded to these announcements by characterizing the pacts as “one-off” agreements that are meaningless since the terms will be superceded when the AMPTP and the WGA reach a deal.

The Friday afternoon announcement comes with a news blackout on the informal talks between WGA leaders and moguls. Those talks — aimed at laying the groundwork for official bargaining to resume — began Tuesday.

In a joint announcement, RKO and the WGA said the company’s current production schedule, to be announced next week, includes several original screen projects, as well as the financing, production and distribution of a number of new versions of classic films from RKO’s 1,300-film library.

RKO’s CEO, Ted Hartley, said in a statement: “The negotiation with the Guild was smooth and business-like; they kept their agreement and we kept ours. It all moved ahead at a steady pace and resulted in good feelings on both sides. This now releases the pent-up energies of the talented executives, producers, and writers at RKO. We all are eager to get back to creating great films and innovative programming today.”

WGA West president Patric Verrone and WGA East president Michael Winship said in a statement: “In the past, RKO gave the world such classics as ‘King Kong,’ ‘Citizen Kane’ and ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ Now it looks to the future, signing an interim agreement that recognizes fair and respectful compensation for writers on the Internet and in new media. We applaud their forward thinking and are pleased to join with them in this agreement.”

Besides RKO, Lionsgate and Marvel, the other interim deals have been signed by TWC, UA, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, Spyglass Entertainment, MRC, Jackson Bites, Mandate Films, and Worldwide Pants.

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