Another day, another meeting or two - and at least one more traffic jam, this one in Beverly Hills as writers flooded into the Beverly Hilton on Wednesday night for the third of three in-person meetings to vote on a strike authorization.
By 7 p.m., the meeting's scheduled start time, the hotel's self-parking garage was filled to capacity, forcing drivers into a valet parking scrum. But for those who didn't brave the get-togethers - one in Universal City on Tuesday, the Beverly Hills meeting on Wednesday night and a New York meeting that ended several hours ago - online voting was available and will be through midday Monday.
The result of all this will surely be a strike authorization for the guild, which it will symbolically bring to the table when now-suspended negotiations with the studio alliance resume Tuesday.
Whether those talks will result in a deal before the current contract's scheduled expiration on May 1 is very much uncertain. The bargaining parties were $350 million apart when the matter was last assayed, and although both sides are understood to have moved since, it seems likely that a gulf of as much as $300 million separates their respective positions.
That large divide, if accurate, will complicate efforts to reach an agreement in the five business days between resumption of talks and contract expiration. In the absence of a successor agreement, the guild has said that it will immediately go on strike. For that reason, industry participants and even investors await the results of the strike authorization vote and subsequent negotiations with nervous anticipation.