A traffic jam of writers clogged Universal City Tuesday night, delaying by a half an hour the scheduled start of a Writers Guild Member's meeting called to rally support for a strike authorization vote that begins Wednesday night and continues through Monday.
By the time the meeting began at about 7:30 p.m., it seemed likely that the 900 person capacity ballroom at the Sheraton Universal was was mostly full. The meeting broke up around 8:30 p.m.
"It was good. Seems like everyone is supportive of each other," said one of the writers after the meeting ended, conveying the general enthusiasm in the room, although no one was willing to speak substantively on the matters discussed.
Patric Verrone, who was WGA president last time the guild went on strike in 2007-8, was spotted leaving the meeting at 9 p.m.
Talks between the WGA and the AMPTP studio alliance were suspended Monday night until next Tuesday, which is after the guild will most likely have received a strike authorization from its members. At that point only one week will remain until the expiration of the current contract and the beginning of what the guild has promised will be an immediate walk out if a replacement deal is not then in place.
Achieving that deal will be difficult at best. As of about a week ago the parties were $350 million apart, with the writers looking for a $535 million deal and the studios more inclined to reach an agreement valued in the neighborhood of $180 million. That's a ratio of 3 to 1.
It's understood that since then there has been some movement on both sides, but observers find it difficult to see how a $350 million gap would have been bridged in such a short time or indeed will be prior to contract expiration.
That may be what the path to a strike looks like. The last Hollywood strike also a walk out by the writers took place in 2007-8, a decade ago and cost the economy an estimated $2.5 billion. The impact this time would depend on a strikes length but a job action that persisted for any significant period of time would likely drive viewers away from broadcast and cable scripted fare to a range of alternatives such as sports news reality, internet video and library content on digital services such as Netflix.
Courtesy of Jonathan Handel