Writers packed the Shrine Auditorium in downtown L.A. tonight, where Writers Guild of America West President Patric Verrone and chief negotiator David Young received standing ovations for drafting a tentative deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. According to one veteran TV writer present, Verrone and Young “strongly recommended” the proposed deal to the crowd. The WGA leadership told members that it would reconvene on Sunday, Feb. 10, to officially sign off on the deal and call off the picketing. The 10,000-plus WGA members will vote over the next 48 hours in an expedited process, according to some who were present, which means writers won’t officially back on the job Monday. Regardless, the deal puts the end of the strike within reach. “Clearly, it’s going to pass,” said the veteran TV writer who attended tonight’s announcement. “The feeling was, ‘Get this thing done.'” After hearing the specifics of the deal, many writers began to leave before Verrone, Young and other leaders fielded questions from members. As reported earlier today by EW.com, the tentative deal offers writers some share in profits for content streamed and downloaded from the Internet, so long as that content is not purely promotional. Full details of the deal can be found here. If approved by the membership, the deal should also allow the 80th Academy Awards to go on as scheduled — stars and all — on Feb. 24.
The only downbeat moment of the evening came when negotiating committee chairman John Bowman mentioned the so-called “cabal” of 30 writers who threatened to cross picket lines recently if the WGA and the AMPTP didn’t make a deal swiftly. When Bowman declared he was not influenced by this dissident group, the crowd applauded. The room also gave a standing ovation to the Screen Actors Guild for showing solidarity during the three-month labor dispute.