I’m hearing writers may work without a contract for at least a few days while negotiations continue. This is not because showbiz writers are typically pushing back a deadline, as Variety‘s lede unfairly asserts, but because “the WGA wants to give the studios every opportunity to present a reasonable offer before instituting a devastating work stoppage. As if the studios haven’t had that chance since July,” a top WGA source tells me tonight. Insiders all along expected a WGA delay before calling a strike, as I first reported back on October 18th, but this window would be much shorter than expected. There will still be Thursday’s night’s general meeting for WGA membership at the LA Convention Center Thursday night at 7 pm.
Meanwhile, I’m told by the producer’s side that the federal mediator’s presence seemed to move things along at today’s negotiating session. All parties worked on “modifications” for part of the day. Then the WGA worked for a long while on a “comprehensive package” which they had hoped to present “at 6 pm,” a producers source told me. “But at 7 pm when it wasn’t ready, the mediator suggested they finish up and present it tomorrow at 10 am.”
The WGA told a different story in this statement issued tonight: “Today’s negotiations began at 10 am. No significant progress was made. At 4:30 pm, we informed the AMPTP that we would prepare a comprehensive package proposal for their review today. At 6:45 pm, we told them the proposal would be ready in 15 minutes. Management negotiators responded by saying they preferred to leave for the day and hear our proposal tomorrow, the expiration date of our contract.” UPDATE: I’m told that today’s so-called modifications revolved around pension and health. There has been no movement on the “strike issues”.
And, on the subject of useless meetings, California State Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles) is convening a hearing of the Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development on November 7th at West Los Angeles Community College to examine challenges to California’s dominance of the entertainment industry, including the economic impact of a strike. “Talk of a strike is already impacting the regional economy,” said Ridley-Thomas. “Even if a strike is averted, the state should examine ways to safeguard and foster the entertainment industry as it is a strong base of economic activity and offers thousands of people an opportunity to have a solid middle class lifestyle.”