3RD UPDATE, 12:36 AM: It looks like 10 years after the last WGA strike crippled Hollywood, a repeat performance has been avoided. We’re hearing from sources on both sides that the writers and producers reps the AMPTP are “close” on a new agreement on a new three-year contract.
Not long after the midnight deadline passed, we heard that the continuing talks were proving “constructive” and a potential deal could be in the making. People inside and around the AMPTP’s Sherman Oaks offices are embracing and smiling, but there has been no official word from the negotiators.
2ND UPDATE, 12:01 AM: The midnight deadline for the WGA contract talks has come and gone, and still no word on whether a deal has been reached or whether a strike will be called. The two sides are still talking, though, and that’s a good sign. The guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers are still at the table at AMPTP’s offices in Sherman Oaks. We’ll update you when there’s news.
UPDATED, 8:33 PM: They are almost certain to take it down to the wire and no one is counting out a strike yet, but there is “progress” in tonight’s WGA and AMPTP talks, we hear.
According to sources on both sides, the past few hours has seen some positive movement on a variety of the core issues between the scribes and the producers, including a possible agreement on funding WGA’s health plan. “We know everyone is waiting for a clear sign, but there is still a long way to go,” one insider close to the studios told Deadline.
“This is going right until midnight,” promised a scribe, spurning the notion that there could be an extension of the talks. However, others say an extension still could happen in what a further source termed “a fluid but intense” night of negotiations still to come as talks have now focused on non-health plan issues we hear. Sources we spoke tonight sounded hopeful that a deal could be reached but cautioned that it still may fall apart.
Whatever the outcome, check back with Deadline for the latest updates on Tinseltown’s labor brinkmanship.
PREVIOUSLY, 4:27 PM: With hours left on the clock before the current WGA contract expires, “things are not looking good,” an insider with ties to scribes tells Deadline.
While there is a chance production offices across town won’t be shut down tomorrow morning and picket lines won’t go up, a source close to the studios also wasn’t optimistic about a writers strike being averted. “We tried to make progress with our last proposal, but the other side is not receptive it seems,” the executive lamented.
After positive signs over the weekend, including an increased offer by producers reps the AMPTP for employer contributions to the health plan of more than $85 million over three years, negotiators for the studios and WGA have been sequestered since 11 AM today at the AMPTP headquarters in Sherman Oaks, CA after a rare Sunday bargaining session. There also was reportedly a move made in the area of compensation for writers employed on short-order TV series – one of the WGA’s main priorities in the talks.
Despite the progress, the two sides are not closing in on a deal, sources cautioned today.
There is still time — the current WGA contract does not expire until midnight PT tonight, and the two sides could conceivably opt for a short-term extension (usually by 24 hours) if they are close enough to the finish line.