The Writers Guild of America's negotiating committee met Jan. 15 with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers along with representatives from ABC, CBS and NBC in an effort to avert a strike. WGA expects the meetings to go on for the next two weeks in an effort to reach a new minimum basic agreement for film and television contracts. The WGA's current contract with Hollywood studios and the major broadcast networks expires May 1. The Screen Actors Guild's current contract with the AMPTP is up this summer. In a letter to fellow WGA members Monday, its president, John Wells, the executive producer of NBC's E.R., says he is hoping to avoid a work stoppage this spring. "These talks will begin in what can only be described as a frenzy of industry and media conjecture. Many have come to refer to 'the strike' as if there were no doubt our negotiations will fail. We disagree. A deal can be achieved if the [studios] are willing to seriously negotiate the issues we have articulated over the past 18 months." The issues on the table, according to Wells, continue to be residuals, Internet rules/contracts and Video-on-Demand parameters.