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WGA vs. AMPTP: What now?

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After a week of talks that only managed to anger the two sides further, the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers appear no closer to ending the five-week-old labor dispute than they did on Nov. 4, when the scribes first put down their pens over the sharing of new media revenue. Now, it seems, several additional issues are keeping the two sides from making a deal, namely a proposal by the WGA to unionize reality and animation writers and its hope to prevent networks from doing business with reality producers who don’t recognize the union. The AMPTP has indicated that it will not resume talks until the WGA pulls those proposals — along with several others, like wanting to stage sympathy strikes when other labor unions are picketing — off the table.

“These discussions have only reinforced our conviction as to how far apart these parties remain,” Carol Lombardini, the AMPTP executive vice president of business and legal affairs, told the WGA Friday. “Your determination to continue to pursue these iniatives prevents us from making any movement in any other area. Therefore, unless you advise us immediately that these proposals are withdrawn, we see no purpose in continuing talks.”

The WGA responded with a scathing press release of their own, stating that the AMPTP is holding to their offer of a $250 fixed residual for unlimited one-year streaming after a six-week window of free use and accusing them of issuing the same kind of ultimatums they first threw out on Nov. 4.  “They always give ultimatums,” WGA Negotiating Committee Chairman John Bowman told Hollywood Insider. “They say if you won’t do this we won’t talk to you anymore. Like the night before we went on strike they said, before you take DVDs off the table, we won’t give you an Internet proposal.’ And we took DVDs off the table and they didn’t give us one. And now they say unless you take six things off the table like reality jurisdiction, animation, and then something we have in [place] to make sure they actually aren’t hiding money in these vertically integrated companies.

“So once again they said if you don’t do this we won’t talk to you anymore, and you can only do that to us once,” Bowman continued. “These people manipulate and they try to trick you. They do everything but negotiate. And we actually had a very good week before today where we were actually talking to each other about the issues.”

Picketing continued through the weekend in New York and Los Angeles, where WGA West President Patric Verrone accused the AMPTP of “prolonging the strike” at a rally for below-the-line workers (i.e. the hundreds of production coordinators, costumers, set dressers, makeup artists, and grips who have lost their jobs since the picketing began). “Despite the companies’ unwarranted action on Friday to break off talks and walk away from the table, we remain ready and willing to return to negotiations. It’s time for the networks and studios to join us in crafting a fair deal that will put this town back to work.” Unfortunately, he gave no indication as to whether those talks will resume this week.

Today, sympathetic Star Trek fans are expected to join the writers in front of Paramount Studios in Hollywood.

The WGA responded with a scathing press release of their own, stating that the AMPTP is holding to their offer of a $250 fixed residual for unlimited one-year streaming after a six-week window of free use and accusing them of issuing the same kind of ultimatums they first threw out on Nov. 4.  “They always give ultimatums,” WGA Negotiating Committee Chairman John Bowman told Hollywood Insider. “They say if you won’t do this we won’t talk to you anymore. Like the night before we went on strike they said, before you take DVDs off the table, we won’t give you an Internet proposal.’ And we took DVDs off the table and they didn’t give us one. And now they say unless you take six things off the table like reality jurisdiction, animation, and then something we have in [place] to make sure they actually aren’t hiding money in these vertically integrated companies.

“So once again they said if you don’t do this we won’t talk to you anymore, and you can only do that to us once,” Bowman continued. “These people manipulate and they try to trick you. They do everything but negotiate. And we actually had a very good week before today where we were actually talking to each other about the issues.”

Picketing continued through the weekend in New York and Los Angeles, where WGA West President Patric Verrone accused the AMPTP of “prolonging the strike” at a rally for below-the-line workers (i.e. the hundreds of production coordinators, costumers, set dressers, makeup artists, and grips who have lost their jobs since the picketing began). “Despite the companies’ unwarranted action on Friday to break off talks and walk away from the table, we remain ready and willing to return to negotiations. It’s time for the networks and studios to join us in crafting a fair deal that will put this town back to work.” Unfortunately, he gave no indication as to whether those talks will resume this week.

Today, sympathetic Star Trek fans are expected to join the writers in front of Paramount Studios in Hollywood.

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