WGA negotiators break off talks


Negotiations between the Writer's Guild of America and film and TV producers broke down Thursday, as the two sides agreed to disagree over economic proposals.

WGA executives say they are close to $60 million apart on a new three-year contract. Nick Counter, the president and chief negotiator for the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers, said WGA members walked away from their proposal of a $30 million contract increase. John Wells, the producer of ER and president of WGA West, said the film and TV producers are balking at their $100 million, three-year increase proposal.

"We are disappointed this round of negotiations has not met with success," Wells said at a press conference. "We have made some progress, but remain significantly apart on many of the economic issues." Wells said the WGA is looking for an 11.3% or $60.9 million increase in residual fees over the next three years. The remaining $40 million increase the WGA is asking for has to due with pensions and health coverage.

The two sides have been negotiating for the last five weeks with the current contract between writers and producers up May 1. "These negotiations started some 28 days ago, I think both sides worked very hard to bridge the gap between them, but the gap is just to big at this point," Counter said.

Asked if the latest breakdown in talks with the WGA will hurt AMPTP's upcoming negotiations with the Screen Actors Guild, Counter said, "You'll have to ask them." - Joe Schlosser