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WGA inks deal with Liman’s startup

Jackson Bites nabs interim work agreement

The WGA’s inked a deal with director-producer Doug Liman’s startup Jackson Bites, aimed at creating TV-style programming for alternative distribution.

Liman, who will serve as co-owner with several investors, said he’s expecting Jackson Bites to oversee shooting on five pilots this spring.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the guild said the pact’s along the lines of the five interim deals it has signed with Worldwide Pants, UA, the Weinstein Co., Media Rights Capital and Spyglass Entertainment.

Liman noted that he made his breakthrough pic, “Swingers,” by going the indie route a decade ago and added that a similar opportunity’s being created on the TV front.

“If the last strike is best remembered for the studios attempting to show they could create programming without writers, this could be the strike where the writers show they can do it without the studios,” said Liman. “We are at a moment of opportunity in television where we have gone from three networks to six, and from a handful of channels to a thousand and YouTube. In that environment, what matters is compelling programming — and compelling programming starts with the writer.”

Liman, who just finished work on “Jumper” for Fox, said the three-month strike has focused him on looking for alternatives for scribes. He added that he’s not adverse to working with major networks on distribbing the finished shows.

“I have a lot of friends in the guild who should be able to have this option,” he added. “They shouldn’t be in the position that they’re in where there’s no outlet for their work.”

The WGA’s been touting its earlier pact with MRC as a way for writers to work outside the studio/network system. “This agreement reflects precisely what we have held from the start: For writers, the Internet and new media are the future,” said WGA East president Michael Winship.

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