Writers strike writ large?


Negotiations between the Writers' Guild of America (WGA) and film and TV producers have broken off, raising concerns in Hollywood that a strike may not be far off. WGA executives claim that they are about $60 million apart on a new three-year contract.

"While the suspension of these talks will not inevitably lead to a strike, we are deeply concerned," said ER executive producer and WGA West President John Wells. "No one is anxious for a strike."

The two sides have been negotiating for the last five weeks, getting ever closer to May 1, when the current WGA contract with studios and the networks expires. Two months later, the Screen Actors Guild contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers is also up.

Nick Counter, the president and chief negotiator for the producers and networks, said WGA members walked away from their "fair" proposal of a $30 million contract increase over three years. "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 too big at this point," Counter said.

Wells said that the WGA is looking for an 11.3%, or $60.9 million, increase in residual fees over the next three years and an additional $40 million increase in pension and health care coverage. There is no set date to resume the negotiations.