It’s time to break out the aspirin.
Writers Guild talks with studios are heading down to the wire, with expiration in just 10 days. Though there’s a news blackout on the negotiations, sources close to the talks say there’s no expectation of a deal until next week at the earliest.
No one expects a strike, as evidenced by the lack of stockpiling activity among studios and little notable change in the pace of writing assignments. But the lack of a resolution — coupled with the WGA’s assertive stances on tough issues such as DVD residuals and jurisdiction over reality TV — have compounded the nagging unease among writers, execs and agents.
Once the current three-year expires at 12:01 a.m. on May 2, the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers would probably decide to extend the provisions of that contract until a deal is reached.
However, if talks break down past expiration, the WGA could then ask its members for a strike authorization either by mail or through a meeting and order them to stop working as soon as approval is given.
Most WGA members express little desire to go down the path, given the current unsettled status of showbiz, the U.S. economy and the world. But they also express skepticism over the companies’ assertions that dwindling profitability precludes any hike in DVD residuals, for example.
If the scribes were to strike, execs have indicated it’s probable that the networks would opt for even more reality programming even though such shows lack the long-term payoffs from syndication and DVDs.
Talks launched April 5 and are now in their 13th day at the WGA West headquarters in Hollywood; both sides have adhered to the news blackout since then. Labor experts contend the lack of public comment on bargaining heightens the chances of reaching a deal.