How do you keep them down on the picket line after word of a breakthrough between the Writers Guild and the media companies? The WGA sent its members an email on Sunday to address the "rumors and reports" of an imminent deal. The official line is that a contract is not yet in hand and until it is the picketing must continue. "Our leverage at the bargaining table is directly affected by your commitment to our cause," the email said. The guild went so far as to have Larry Gelbart send out an automated phone message that says, in effect, it's not over until it's over. There's a meeting on Monday night where guild negotiators will present specifics to the board. Here's more from Laeta Kalogridis at United Hollywood:
To be as clear as possible: Things that are agreed to in the room aren't "real" until we have at least a serious start on contract language, and even the most optimistic estimates say that process will take a week.
That said, the networks are starting to make plans on how to handle the rest of the season. The WSJ reports that it could take four to eight weeks or more to get existing TV dramas back on the air.
Even as the strike dragged on, TV studio and network executives had been making plans to spring back into action. Now they face tough decisions on each series: Whether to race back on the air with as many new episodes as possible before the traditional TV season ends in May; extend the shows into summer; delay them until fall; or cancel them altogether. In some instances, TV studios, fearing shortages of space and talent, are already booking directors and reserving studio and office space to shoot new episodes as quickly as possible, according to people familiar with the matter. Meanwhile, TV executives are facing a truncated development cycle for next season's new shows that could turn into a mad dash to lock down stars and shoot even a handful of pilots for next season at the same time as completing existing series.