After two final days back at the negotiating table this week, the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers late last night reached a deal on a new three-year contract. No details of the agreement have been revealed as both parties want to reach out to respective members later today before going public, I’m told. The current contract expires May 1, which means the longer-than-expected talks leave the union having to pull together a ratification vote lickety-split.
Already agreeing on everything but the chestnut issues of options and exclusivity, the two sides took an 18-day break before returning to talks at AMPTP headquarters in Sherman Oaks on Monday. As I reported on March 6, even with the scribes taking a stronger line than during the last negotiations and the studios/networks more divided than last time, the sides were “very close” to a deal even before they took their first temporary recess from February 15-March 4. That break came after an initial two weeks of talks that started February 3. Though no one was thumping the table and calling for a strike, talks started with a lot of tension after the studios and networks requested $60 million in rollbacks from the health and pension plans, residuals and targeted screenplay minimums on just before the talks got underway. Still, as widely anticipated under Hollywood’s pattern bargaining system, the final deal worked out is expected to be similar to the agreement the DGA made with the studios and networks.
Now only SAG-AFTRA among the major Hollywood guilds is left to work out a new contract. The actors union, which will be entering their first such negotiations since merging in 2012, are still going through final stages of mandated wages and working conditions meetings with members. Any announcement on when it will even name a start date for talks with AMPTP isn’t expected for at least another week or so, with everyone sitting down in May.