2/02/2008

NY Times Reports Progress In Talks

As this is written, the WGA and AMPTP are still under a news blackout regarding the ongoing informal negotiations.

However, the NY Times just reported that "major roadblocks" have been gotten past in the negotiations, and progress will be swifter in the negotiations going forward -- with an eye toward an agreement in principle coming out of negotiations fairly soon.

UH has confirmed from off-the-record sources that progress is indeed being made in the informal talks, and that creative solutions to the biggest differences between the AMPTP and the WGA have gotten the tentative and cautious approval of both sides.

This does not mean there is a deal in principle yet. It means we may, finally, be very close to one -- as close as days away.

And while we're cautiously optimistic about what we're hearing, it comes with a real caveat.

Just as happened with the DGA deal, points that are agreed to in informal negotiation can be thought of as points on a deal memo -- but it's the drafting language that comes from hammering out those points that makes them legally binding. And our sources say that draft language doesn't yet exist. That's a big part of what will be happening in the next few days, as negotiations continue.

Until the WGA and the companies have enshrined the deal points -- whatever they are -- into real draft language, those deal points can't be thought of as final.

The only reason we've gotten as far as we have in the negotiations is because the pressure has stayed on. If we let up on that pressure, even a little, it could affect the draft language of the agreement. It could, in a very real way, diminish the power of our negotiators and our Guild now, when it matters most.

Stay out there. Stay on the lines, stay informed. Stay strong. We'll have more soon.

27 comments:

Skyfleur said...

I sure hope that the WGA didn't cave in. Really, that's all I hope that Chernin and Iger dropped their position and finally gave in to the reasonable WGA's proposals. I hope the DVD formula has been put back up on the table. It's important, as much as new media. Look at how many DVDs are releases every week ! More and more shows are getting on the DVD media. IT needs to be back.

Geo Rule said...

I can't remember the last time I had such a combined hopeful/cringing reaction to a phrase like I just did to "creative solutions".

I will try to concentrate on the hopeful side of that reaction. It's quite possible that only a "creative solution" could really have a chance of meeting everyone's needs.

Jeffrey said...

Monday morning, back to the lines. No matter what, back to the lines. And keep coming back until the deal is done. "Never stop fighting! Never stop fighting until the fight is done! Here endeth the lesson!" - The Untouchables written by David Mamet

Caitlin said...

Every word of this is spot on. I don't cringe at "creative solutions" .It could be good, it could be bad, but I prefer to remain optimistic because the writers have been damn strong about this since the whole thing started. No offense meant to any worriers who might or might not be WGA members, but you're the ones who've always told us (fans, etc.) to have faith in your leadership. Until I see what's come of this, I'm going to. And until the solution is before us, stay strong. That way, this thing will end quickly. The leadership is smart. And so are the congloms- smart enough, I think, to finally realize their position. Wait and see. Hope for the best. Personally? I'm feeling better than I have in ages.

Ruthie said...

The only reason we've gotten as far as we have in the negotiations is because the pressure has stayed on.

The only reason we've gotten as far as we have in the negotiations is because we gave away DVDs, animation and reality (and who knows what else?).

Jeremy said...

I think the fact that UH is reporting on this is rather encouraging. What the deal will be is anyone's guess but I doubt this WGA leadership "caved". As a BTLer looking in, I think any deal significantly better (though not as good as you guys want) will be ratified. It's just a hunch of course but I doubt 50% of the members are as vocal or hardlined as many who post.

S Phillips said...

Hang in there! Anyone who pays attention to this knows that what you are striking for is perfectly reasonable. I'm not a WGA member but I sure am rooting for you.

Dennis Wilson said...

Now contrast the NY Times piece with the Cynthia Littleton article on Variety.com today suggesting that the two sides aren't in fact as close as Times writer Michael Cieply reports: http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117980072.html?categoryid=18&cs=1.

"Top studio CEOs are said to be frustrated with the lack of substantive progress... Chernin and Iger began the informal talks on the heels of the AMPTP sealing a deal with the Directors Guild of America that the AMPTP aims to use as a template for a WGA pact. A big stumbling block for the WGA is said to be the terms agreed to by the DGA for web streaming of TV shows and movies."

Whom to believe?

Michael said...

URGENT-Hollywood-Labour,@
Breakthrough reached in talks between studios and striking writers: source@
LOS ANGELES -- A breakthrough in contract talks has been reached between Hollywood studios and striking writers.
A person close to the talks says the breakthrough could lead to a tentative deal as early as next week.
The source says the two sides breached the gap yesterday on the thorniest issues, those concerning compensation for projects distributed via the Internet.
The tentative agreement would have to be approved by a majority of guild members.
The Writers Guild of America began informal talks with top media company executives last week in an attempt to reach a new deal covering governing work for film, TV and digital media.
The three-month-old strike has brought the entertainment industry to a standstill.
(The Associated Press)(The Associated Press)
18:05ET 02-02-08

Paul said...

Ruthie stated that the WGA leadership gave up animation and reality. Untrue, You never had it.
I am a BTL worker, It is time for everyone to get back to work! The MONEY that has been lost by everyone will never be made up for. No matter what type of deal is struck! The ONLY ones out there who could care less are the writers who have been working on shows. The rest of us need to go back to work and make a living!

John Aboud said...

To Paul:

Ruthie means the proposals for jurisdiction over animation and reality, not actual jurisdiction.

And her point is well-taken: Progress has been made at the expense of proposals that many in the membership had pinned their hopes on. I was at a meeting where a strike captain told David Young that he will "not get over" Young giving up on changing the DVD formula. That wasn't one of my personal issues, but I understand that for many it was incredibly important.

Let's hope the deal that, apparently, will be announced soon will be one that the leadership and members can be happy with so we can all get back to work.

BJ said...

The WGA's proposal for reality and animation jurisdiction was never a serious proposal, and anyone who thought it was doesn't understand how labor relations work in this country. Strikes are not for establishing jurisdiction. They never have been, and they never will be. You establish jurisdiction by organizing a labor force and having them vote to join a union. That's how it works.

Caitlin said...

dennis wilson, I believe BYT, United Hollywood and Deadline Hollywood Daily. I trust them over Variety by a long shot.

Dennis Wilson said...

Mark Evanier has heard the news and offers some experience worth remembering:
http://www.newsfromme.com/archives/2008_02_02.html#014746

Sibyl said...

because we gave away DVDs, animation and reality

A negotiation means each side has to give up something. To refuse to concede anything is a recipe for failure.

QuoterGal said...

I'll understand it if you don't want to post my comment yet, since this has not been officially confirmed by the two main parties, but AP & Reuters and others are saying there's been a big breakthrough as of Friday's meeting:

http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5iE0uIqtrdPXiNMr1qniAIsCAa0fwD8UIFASO0

http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSN0235380420080202

This combined with your reporting of Cieply's article - ordinarily such a crappy & slanted strike reporter - makes me wonder if in fact there might be something to it.

*holds breath - and crosses fingers for a great deal*

dp said...

Whatever happens you MUST get dvds because any part of the new media deal that you wish to renegotiate in the future will not be taken seriously unless they know you will always reassess revenue streams. This lets you get a foothold on new media without having to make the "perfect deal". You can get a good deal and then in 3 yrs a "perfect deal".

Second, please please please do not let them have a free 17 day or whatever window for promotion. It hurts everyone. It's just like when we all helped out HBO with sweetheart deals that we can't take back even though they are the biggest money makers now.

A Moderate Approach said...

This post is either staggeringly naive or intentionally misleading. "Drafting language" is a separate negotiation that can go on for months after a deal is struck and people are back to work. I am a member of both the WGA and DGA and have ALREADY RECEIVED my ratification ballot for the DGA deal that people like Allen & Rosenberg of SAG are claiming oly exists as a press release. Whatever this deal is, if the negotiating committee has approved it, it will be voted on by the membership way before much of the language has been drafted... unless it is rejected by the Board.

Bonnie said...

Bravo Jeffrey. You're my kind of guy. We need more of you in our guild and in our world.

rye-tor said...

PAUL: "The ONLY ones out there who could care less are the writers who have been working on shows. The rest of us need to go back to work and make a living!"

With all due respect Paul, your statement is 100% false. Writers on shows are usually the lucky few who are having their "15 minutes of financial fame" -- their big payday that they've worked YEARS for. And now they're missing out. Think of it this way: who cares more about getting back to work -- the 50% of writers who weren't earning actual income (but still writing) or the rest who actually WERE earning income?

You wanna play the blame game? Fine - just get your facts straight first.

Jack said...

Fortunately, there ARE a lot of people like Jeffrey out there.

I'll be back on the line Monday, and every day until this is officially declared over. I'm more optimistic than ever, though, that -- for the first time in decades -- I'll be able to say the WGA did the right thing, the right way, and came away with a win.

Not An said...

From the LAT -

"Guild negotiators David Young, Patric M. Verrone and John Bowman are scheduled to brief the union's negotiating committee on the proposed deal Monday."

My apology if it has been posted before, I didn't see it but I am old.

MT said...

OK...call me an optimist, I'm buying a bottle of champagne tomorrow--just in case.

The AMPTP is faced with losing the Oscars (at least in its most profitable format), a militant SAG, possible Congressional investigation, no pilot season, and have already cut ties to development deals they had felt buyers remorse over. I can see no (logical) reason for them to drag out a strike that will only insure a bigger travesty come summer.

So I'll buy my champagne, and hope I drink it sooner rather than later.

Jeremy said...

This story is all over the news now. I'll be real pissed if it does turn out to be a ruse.

Bartleby said...

To quote Jean Claude Van Damme in "Universal Soldier": "The war...it's oooovvvaaahhh."

stuiec said...

jeremy: you ought not to get your hopes up (or down) until you receive word directly from the WGA leadership. Newspapers need to report something to fill their column inches and Web pages, and if there's no hard news, they'll print rumor.

When there is hard information to report, it will come from your Guild leadership.

hotline said...

Please, please, please leadership, don't let us down with a crappy deal.

Remember if this deal isn't good and the WGA votes against it, this thing gets a thousand times messier and it's going til June with SAG striking.