Striking Hollywood writers (pictured above) could begin informal talks with studio chiefs as early as next week in an effort to end a two-month walkout that has hobbled the entertainment industry, according to a person familiar with the bargaining strategy of the writers guild.
Word of the possible break in the stalemate came on Friday, a day after the directors guild announced a tentative contract deal, and studio heads urged the Writers Guild of America to join in talks that could lead to the resumption of formal negotiations that broke off December 7.
The writers guild is prepared to sit down with executives such as Robert Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Co, who participated in similar informal talks with directors, said the person who was not authorised to comment publicly and asked for anonymity.
In its tentative deal with producers, the Directors Guild of America resolved new-media compensation issues that are also central to the writers guild dispute, including compensation for movie and TV projects delivered over the Internet.
In a joint statement on Thursday, top executives from eight major companies – Fox, Paramount Pictures, The Walt Disney Co, CBS Corp, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Warner Bros, MGM and NBC Universal – called on the writers guild to join in the kind of informal talks that preceded the directors' negotiations.
The executives said the deal with directors established a precedent for the industry's creative talent to "participate financially in every emerging area of new media."
Officials at the writers guild were waiting to receive a copy of the directors' tentative pact and evaluate how it fits in with what writers are seeking.
The agreement gives the union jurisdiction over programs produced for distribution on the Internet.
It also provides for residuals paid on a percentage of distributors' gross – also a key writers guild proposal. (AP)
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