Hollywood writers, producers urged to resume negotiations

2007-12-09 12:39:43 xinhuanet

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 9 (Xinhua) -- "Below-the-line" entertainment industry professionals and vendors rallied in downtown Los Angeles on Sunday to urge Hollywood writers and producers to strike a deal.

The rally was designed to press both sides to return to the bargaining table and reach a settlement, organizers said.

The "Strike A Deal" march and rally was the result of "a spontaneous grass-roots outgrowth of the concern and desire and below-the-line industry professionals and vendors whose jobs, livelihoods and futures hang in the balance," according to a statement posted on its blog, Strikeadeal.blogspot.com.

The rally and march is intended to "put a face on the thousands of us adversely affected by the current strike" and "to show a united front in calling for responsible and serious negotiations," said the statement.

The rally came two days after talks broke off between writers and the studios and networks, with both sides blaming the other for the impasse.

According to a statement from the Writers Guild of America (WGA), J. Nicholas Counter III, the president of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), told negotiators for the writers, in the presence of a federal mediator, "We are leaving. When you write us a letter saying you will take all these items off the table, we will reschedule negotiations with you."

The alliance, which represents the studios and networks, requested that the writers abandon their demands to use the distributor's gross as the basis for residuals, jurisdiction over animation and so-called reality programming and for "Fair Market Value," which mandates arbitration when studio licensing arrangements for Internet businesses are questioned, according to the guild.

The WGA remains "ready and willing to negotiate, no matter how intransigent our bargaining partners are, because the stakes are simply too high," its statement said.

The alliance also accused the guild of making "unreasonable demands that are roadblocks to real progress," including demanding full control over so-called reality television and animation; requiring all reality programs to be produced under terms of the WGA agreement; allowing the right to join in strikes by other organizations and seeking a portion of advertising revenue.

"These are the terms the WGA organizers demand for ending the strike -- money that doesn't exist, restrictions that are legally dubious and control over people who have refused to join their union," the statement said.

The writers went on strike on Nov. 5, with the dispute focusing on residual payments to writers for work distributed via the Internet, video iPods, cellphones and other new media. The two sides had met seven times since bargaining resumed Nov. 26, but broke off again on Saturday.

Most scripted primetime series have suspended production while all the late-night talk shows on the major broadcast networks have been forced into reruns, except for NBC's "Last Call with Carson Daly," whose host crossed the picket line last week and returned to work without his writing staff.

If talks do not resume soon, the strike will have far-reaching consequences across Hollywood and for many businesses throughout the region that depend on the industry.