Saturday, February 09, 2008

WGA Leaders to Members: Strike Must End Now

"We believe that continuing to strike now will not bring sufficient gains to outweigh the potential risks and that the time has come to accept this contract and settle the strike," wrote WGA West chief Paul Verrone and WGA East chief Michael Winship.

With such words the leadership of the WGA have mass-emailed their members, as we predicted, in advance of the general membership meeting later today discuss the terms of the new draft contract.

This draft contract came about through informal talks of the chiefs with Disney's Bob Iger and News Corp's Peter Chernin, as we reported last week.

The e-mail is undoubtedly intended to quell opposition from within their own ranks, such as from a minority of the 300 strike captains who were shown the deal yesterday, as well as outspoken hardliner and WGA board member Phil Alden Robinson, who are uncomfortable in particular about the roughly 2-3 week window for Internet streaming without compensation to scribes-- this point may be a deal-breaker to some members because conventional wisdom is that the bulk of streaming revenue comes within 24 hours of the initial broadcast. However some terms of the deal are better than the DGA's draft deal: In the 3rd year of the contract, compensation (aka "residuals") of 2% of the streaming revenue.

Despite such possible discontent, industry rumors overwhelmingly seem to indicate that the contract will overall be a quick and easy sell to a strike-weary membership. The strike captains have the authority to end the strike at any point, so this may well happen in advance of the formal full-membership vote by mail. We'll keep you in touch as we hear more news about ABC possibly reassembling the Lost film crew and cast over in Hawaii.

SAT NIGHT UPDATE: Both East and West coast meetings apparently went well. (e.g. see here for a blow-by-blow which includes the WGA email.) There will be a special 48 hour vote to end the strike. Then there will be a "quick" 10 day voting process for the membership to OK the contract, although a "back to work" order might well be issued during that time pending the eventual result, as early as this Wednesday. Read more details at Digitalmedialaw blog and over at Daily Variety. The bottom line? There will almost certainly be more episodes of Lost Season 4. We think about 4-6 episodes more, depending on ABC extending the viewing season.
SUN MORNING UPDATE: A press conference is scheduled at WGA West at noon. (link)
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