- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 13, 2008

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Striking Hollywood writers are going back to work.

The Writers Guild of America said its members voted yesterday to end their devastating, three-month strike that brought the entertainment industry to a standstill.

Writers will be back on the job today after voting in Beverly Hills and New York.

“At the end of the day, everybody won. It was a fair deal and one that the companies can live with, and it recognizes the large contribution that writers have made to the industry,” Leslie Moonves, chief executive officer of CBS Corp., told the Associated Press.

Mr. Moonves was among the media executives who helped broker a deal after talks between the guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents studios, collapsed in acrimony in December.

Residuals for TV shows and movies distributed online was the most contentious issue in the bitter dispute involving the 12,000-member union and the world’s largest media companies and other producers.

Under a tentative contract approved Sunday by the union’s board of directors, writers would get a maximum flat fee of about $1,200 for streamed programs in the deal’s first two years and then get 2 percent of a distributor’s gross in year three.

“These advances now give us a foothold in the digital age,” said Patric Verrone, president of the West Coast guild. “Rather than being shut out of the future of content creation and delivery, writers will lead the way as television migrates to the Internet.”

One winner in the vote was the Academy Awards, which now can be staged Feb. 24 without the threat of pickets or a boycott by actors that would have dulled the glamour of Hollywood’s signature celebration.

The strike’s end will allow many hit series to return this spring for what is left of the current season, airing from four to seven new episodes. Shows with marginal audience numbers may not return until fall or could be canceled.

“It will be all hands on deck for the writing staff,” said Chris Mundy, co-executive producer of CBS’ drama “Criminal Minds.” He hopes to get a couple of scripts in the pipeline right away, with about seven episodes airing by the end of May.

The combined New York-Beverly Hills count was overwhelmingly in favor of ending the strike: 3,492 voted yes, with only 283 voting to stay off the job.

Writers did not vote on whether to formally accept the tentative deal, which was reached after a Feb. 1 breakthrough between union negotiators and studio executives.


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