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Strike forecast: Cloudy with some chance of sunshine

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Though networks are still preparing for a drawn-out writers’ strike (CBS, for example, called for contestants for a winter edition of Big Brother during last night’s episode of The Amazing Race), suits and writers alike started out their week feeling cautiously optimistic about today’s scheduled talks between the Writers Guild of America and producers. Few believed anything would be resolved by day’s end, however. Says one studio topper, “Today they’ll call each other a–holes before getting down to talking tomorrow.” Still, fingers are crossed that a deal could be reached by Wednesday. “It seems hard to believe they can’t come out of three days without a deal,” continued the studio head. Adds a Big Four net exec, “I think it will either be resolved quickly or we will wait to talk with the more reasonable union [the Directors Guild of America].”

Meanwhile, it appears a movement is afoot by the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers to do a better job of getting its side of the story out to the media. Curiously, press outlets like Variety have only recently begun to report that the AMPTP agreed to compensate writers for streaming video with a six-week promotional window at the now-infamous Nov. 4 negotiation session that ultimately broke down and led to the strike. The producers also granted the WGA jurisdiction over any new content written for the Internet say, for example, if Heroes scribes were to spin fresh tales for the show’s official page on NBC.com. Yet frequent reports have quoted writers saying that the WGA made concessions on Nov. 4 while the producers refused to give up anything, leading to the start of the strike on Nov. 5.

Since the latest talks will be kept under wraps (both sides called for a press blackout), it’s unlikely the press will get any progress reports until a deal is made. Though many shows remain in production, hundreds of people have already lost their jobs because of the strike. As of this morning, 464 people have indicated they are now standing in the unemployment line on http://getbackinthatroom.blogspot.com/.