The writers and producers made more progress on Sunday than anyone would have expected on Friday, but all of a sudden the clock struck 9 p.m. and the strike was under way. That's 12 NY time, which is when the WGA contract expired back east. The producers' chief negotiator, Nick Counter, says he asked guild officials if they would stop the clock - the time-honored practice of a union putting off the contract deadline when talks are making progress - and the guild refused. The WGA says that producers had not addressed several of the key issues, and the producers say the WGA was unwilling to compromise on the big stuff. Actually, there was progress in a number of areas, but DVD residuals remain the line in the sand for both sides (though the WGA said that it had withdrawn its proposal to double DVD residuals). Good luck sorting through all the spin. What matters is that the strike is on - and once these things start, they can take on a life of their own (that's why there was such urgency to cutting a deal over the weekend). No new talks have been scheduled, and it might be a while before the two sides sit down once again. Picketing will start at 9 a.m. this morning at CBS Radford, CBS Television City, Culver Studios, Disney, Fox, Hollywood Center, NBC, Prospect, Paramount, Raleigh, Sony, Sunset Gower, Universal and Warner Bros. Here's more from Variety's Dave McNary:
The strike heightens the likelihood that the [Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers] will turn quickly to launch negotiations with the Directors Guild of America, which has a June 30 contract expiration. Should the DGA make a deal in the next few weeks, it would likely be trumpeted by studios and nets as a repudiation of the WGA's contention that the companies are not willing to engage in serious bargaining on tough issues. Labor experts have warned that once the WGA goes on strike, a resolution is not likely to emerge any time soon -- particularly with the DGA and AMPTP expected to start negotiations later this month.
The strike caps a frustrating period for moderates in Hollywood, who were often struck by the unprecedented levels of hostility in three months of negotiations. The two sides were so far apart on so many issues that key players on both sides were seeking not to craft an entire deal but to simply delay the strike for a few days in order to give negotiations another chance. The major focus of the latest initiative appeared to be to get talks moving without the relentless saber-rattling that's dominated for the past year with both sides having descended into a bitter battle of words with little actual back-and-forth bargaining.