- The Washington Times - Monday, February 11, 2008

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Writers Guild of America moved swiftly yesterday toward a resolution of its three-month-old strike, with guild leaders deciding to recommend the contract to members and ask them to vote on a quick end to the walkout.

By asking writers to vote separately on ending the strike and accepting the contract, the union cleared the way for the entertainment industry to return to work almost immediately.

Membership meetings will be held tomorrow in New York and Los Angeles to allow writers to decide whether the strike should be brought to a speedy end, said Patric Verrone, president of the guild’s West Coast branch.

“This is the best deal this guild has bargained for in 30 years,” Mr. Verrone said.

The tentative contract secures writers a share of the burgeoning digital-media market, he said, including compensation for Internet-delivered TV shows and movies.

“If they [producers] get paid, we get paid. This contract makes that a reality,” Mr. Verrone said. But, he added, “it is not all we hoped for, and it is not all we deserved.”

Still, the union’s negotiating committee recommended Saturday that the contract be accepted, and the West branch’s board of directors and the East Coast branch’s council agreed. They called for a membership ratification vote, which will be conducted by mail over about two weeks.

Show runners — industry lingo for the executive producers in charge of a TV series — are expected to be back at work today, preparing for the return of writers as soon as Wednesday, industry members said.

Although show runners also are guild members, they are allowed to work as long as they focus only on producer-related tasks.

Member approval of the contract and the strike’s end appeared likely. At heavily attended membership meetings Saturday in New York and Los Angeles, there was resounding support for the proposed deal that could put TV and movie production back on track, salvage the rest of the TV season and remove a boycott threat from this month’s Oscars.

The strike shut down production of TV comedies and dramas and disrupted movie making and Hollywood’s glamorous awards season.

Mr. Verrone thanked television viewers who “tolerated three months of reruns and reality TV.”

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