Programming

WGA STRIKE UPDATE: WGA SETS TUESDAY VOTE TO END STRIKE

WGA Members Expected to Approve End to Writers' Strike in Tuesday Vote; Writers Likely Back to Work Wednesday 2/10/2008 07:43:00 AM Eastern

More than three months since shutting down TV and film production, the writers’ strike is expected to officially end Tuesday evening. The Writers Guild of America boards voted Sunday to submit the proposed end to the strike to the WGA membership, which will likely approve it in a vote set for Tuesday.

Results of the vote, which will be done in person in New York and Los Angeles and via fax, will be released Tuesday night, with the writers expected to be back on the job Wednesday. However, showrunners are now free to return to their nonwriting roles immediately. They had ceased to perform those functions soon after the strike began Nov. 5.

The television industry will now sprint back into production, both in terms of getting many current shows back on the air this season as soon as possible, as well as kicking into gear a shortened and frenzied development season for next fall. Industry executives were already laying the groundwork for that rapid restart prior to the weekend.

Each network must also now begin to finalize its plans for the upfront selling season and decide what level of presence to have in New York during the traditional upfront week in May. Fox is expected to stage a full upfront presentation, while NBC has been weighing the possibility of scaling back.

The networks also are expected to extend this season into June to have time to air more original episodes of the shows they choose to put back into production now.

In a Sunday press conference in Los Angeles, WGA West president Patric Verrone outlined the results of the goals of the WGA, saying that it achieved victories in residuals for shows put online and jurisdiction over product created for the Internet. However, the guild failed to get jurisdiction over animation and reality, which Verrone called “personally heartbreaking.”

Verrone said he was happy with the deal but “it is not all we had hoped for and all we deserved.”

He personally thanked News Corp.’s Peter Chernin and Disney’s Bob Iger and said their “leadership was instrumental” to getting this deal done.

WGA executive director David Young acknowledged that the recent Directors Guild of America deal -- coupled with the fact that a deal now could save the Academy Awards in its full form and leave time for a development season for next fall -- led both sides to settle.

He said the turning point of the deal was a meeting at a Los Angeles hotel Feb. 1 that was attended by both Chernin and Iger.

The late-night shows that were not working under interim agreements will also get their writers back Wednesday, as well as being able to resume the pipeline of A-list guests who had shunned them since their return without writers.

Regarding the WGA voting, members will first vote on whether to end the strike, which the WGA board recommended Sunday. Then, in a separate vote that will take up to two weeks, they will vote on whether to ratify the deal. It is expected the results of both votes will be in the affirmative.

The votes will take place at the WGA Theater in Los Angeles and the Crowne Plaza in New York.

After meeting Sunday morning, the WGA Negotiating Committee recommended the tentative deal with producers to the WGA West Board and the WGA East Council. The bicoastal bodies then met and decided to recommend membership end the strike.

The WGA finalized the tentative deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers early Saturday and presented the details to WGA members in meetings in Los Angeles and New York.

For complete coverage of the writers' strike, click here.

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