Anybody talking? Anybody listening to Levitan, et al?

Is anybody talking out there? Back channels? Front channels? Text messages? Carrier pigeons? Smoke signals? Secret code only decipherable by members of the Navajo tribe?

I took the opportunity presented at today’s let’s-shut-down-Avenue-of-the-Stars rally outside the the Wgastrikelogo_2 Fox  Plaza to press WGA West’s Patric Verrone and David Young on the Big Question of whether there’s any movement toward bringing the scribes and studios back to the bargaining table. The answer for now seems to be “nothing formal” but both men indicated that some communications have been ongoing on unofficial, can’t-we-figure-this-out basis.

Seems to me that this weekend is kinda crucial for the sides to at the very least sit down again in the same room. We’ve had five days of street theater. The writers I spoke to at today’s rally seem to have their fists clenched even tighter and their resolve that much stronger to hold out for what they view as a fair deal. But for all the unity and solidarity on display on Avenue of the Stars today, many protesters mentioned how exasperating it is picketing knowing that the sides were seemingly only a few yards from common ground when things went awry last Sunday night.

As far as I can see, the only tangible idea to move things along has come from the high-powered clutch of 125 or so showrunners who floated the idea of a quid pro quo offer for the showrunners to go back into their offices to put whatever finishing touches they could on episodes that were penned before the walkout began on Monday if the Alliance for Motion Picture and Television Producers would go back into negotiations in good faith. Sure, it’s the “good faith” part that is hard to define. But the showrunners are a serious lot. This sounds like an eminently reasonable proposal to me.

Steve Levitan, one of the hyphenates who helped formulate the idea after Wednesday’s showrunners rally outside of Disney, said he knows the offer has been communicated to AMPTP side. “There are a lot of us who would love nothing more than go to back and produce our episodes on Monday if it would move us closer to a deal,” Levitan said after today’s rally broke up, as he fellow A-listers Greg Daniels, Damon Lindelof and Larry Charles were sitting on the edge of the Fox Plaza building, resting their feet after another long march.

–Cynthia Littleton

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