Writers vote to end 3-month strike - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Writers vote to end 3-month strike

Writers Guild members picket Friday. The guild Sunday decided to have members vote on ending the strike. Writers Guild members picket Friday. The guild Sunday decided to have members vote on ending the strike.
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Striking Hollywood writers are going back to work.

The Writers Guild of America said its members voted Tuesday to end their devastating, three-month strike that brought the entertainment industry to a standstill.

Writers will be back on the job Wednesday after voting in Beverly Hills and New York.

"At the end of the day, everybody won," Leslie Moonves, chief executive officer of CBS Corp., told The Associated Press.

"It was a fair deal and one that the companies can live with, and it recognizes the large contribution that writers have made to the industry."

Moonves was among the media executives who helped broker a deal after talks between the guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents studios, collapsed in acrimony in December.

Residuals for TV shows and movies distributed online was the most contentious issue in the bitter dispute involving the 12,000-member union and the world's largest media companies and other producers.

Under a tentative contract approved Sunday by the union's board of directors, writers would get a maximum flat fee of about $1,200 for streamed programs in the deal's first two years and then get 2 percent of a distributor's gross in year three.

"These advances now give us a foothold in the digital age," said Patric Verrone, president of the West Coast guild. "Rather than being shut out of the future of content creation and delivery, writers will lead the way as television migrates to the Internet."

One winner in the vote was the Academy Awards, which can now be staged February 24 without the threat of pickets or a boycott by actors that would have dulled the glamour of Hollywood's signature celebration.

The strike's end will allow many hit series to return this spring for what's left of the current season, airing anywhere from four to seven new episodes. Shows with marginal audience numbers may not return until fall or could be canceled.

"It will be all hands on deck for the writing staff," said Chris Mundy, co-executive producer of CBS' drama "Criminal Minds." He hopes to get a couple of scripts in the pipeline right away, with about seven episodes airing by the end of May.

The combined New York-Beverly Hills count was overwhelmingly in favor of ending the strike: 3,492 voted yes, with only 283 voting to stay off the job.

Writers did not vote on whether to formally accept the tentative deal, which was reached after a February 1 breakthrough between union negotiators and studio executives.

The guild will mail contract ratification ballots to members over the next few days. Writers can also vote at meetings. All ballots must be cast by February 25.

The walkout stopped work on dozens of TV shows, disrupted movie production and turned the usually star-studded Golden Globes show into a news conference. It also dealt a severe financial blow to a wide range of businesses dependent on work from studios.

The strike took a $3.2 billion toll in direct and indirect costs on the economy of Los Angeles County, the home of most of the nation's TV and film production, according to a new estimate from Jack Kyser, chief economist for the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp.

The last writers strike, a 153-day walkout in 1988, caused an estimated $500 million in lost wages.

The latest strike began November 5, and formal negotiations broke off December 7 after the guild pushed to unionize writers on reality and animated productions.

Informal talks began January 23 between studio heads and the union, which extended an olive branch by withdrawing its proposal to organize reality and animated shows. It also decided against picketing the Grammy Awards.

Pressure to reach an agreement mounted after the studio alliance reached a tentative contract January 17 with the Directors Guild of America.

Among the executives who took the lead in breaking the impasse were Peter Chernin, chief operating officer of News Corp., and Robert Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Co.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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