Sunday, February 10, 2008

U.S. Writers' strike almost over, the Oscars likely saved!

It looks like the Writers' Guild of America strike will soon be over as a tentative three-year deal has been reached with production companies.

Union officials briefed WGA members about the tentative deal at meetings yesterday in Los Angeles and New York. WGA officials are claiming victory as it looks like they succeeded in winning better benefits for members on the strike's most contentious issues.

As the New York Times reports:

"Writers had demanded a much bigger share of returns from downloads and Web streaming than they had received in the past from the distribution of shows on older media like cassettes and DVDs, as well as expanded jurisdiction over reality television and animated features."

"Company representatives initially responded by insisting on a complete revamping of Hollywood’s time-honored residuals system, under which writers, directors, actors and others are paid for re-use of their work on television and home video."

"The tentative agreement became possible when the sides reached a handshake deal nine days ago on a crucial term under which writers would be paid a fixed residual amounting to about $1,300 for the right to stream a television program online. In the third year of their contract, the writers would achieve one of their major goals: payments amounting to 2 percent of the distributor’s revenue from such streams."

"The percentage formula is viewed by many writers as protection against the possibility that traditional reruns — which have paid them residuals amounting to tens of thousands of dollars per episode in the past — will disappear because of Web streams in the near future."

"Other major gains include a pay plan that pegs residuals for electronic downloads of movies and televisions shows at nearly double the rate paid historically for DVDs, and calculates the rate as a percentage of the distributor’s revenue, junking an old formula."

So writers get a better deal for the future (should they approve it, which looks likely now.)

And two weeks from today, Oscar lovers will get their much-needed, mid-winter, awards night fix! (Not to mention all the other shows we've lost out seeing the last three months.) This is great cause for celebration, indeed...

********* UPDATE********

The strike's over. The union voted to endorse the new agreement on Sunday.

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