August is usually a slow time in the entertainment industry. With the fall TV lineup set, writers, producers, directors, and casting directors take much-needed vacations, while network execs spend quality time in their summer homes. But the current contract negotiations between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have sparked rumors that writers, actors, and directors may all strike next year. Many are speculating that if the writers and producers don’t come to an agreement by Oct. 31, the contract’s expiration date, the WGA could ride out its contract until June 2008, when the AMPTP’s pacts with the Screen Actors Guild and the Directors Guild of America expire. The unions, negotiating for better residuals and new-media compensation, could unite for a “perfect storm” strike that might effectively shut down the industry.

The WGA hasn’t called for a strike vote among its members yet, but recent economic reports out of Los Angeles — including a July report from FilmL.A. — have verified what many in the industry suspect: Studios and networks are stockpiling films and TV pilots in anticipation of having to wait out a triple-threat strike, creating what one casting director called a “second pilot season.”

Actor Kyle Nudo emailed that he is concerned about a strike but is confident it won’t happen if the WGA, SAG, and the DGA stay united: “Wouldn’t it be interesting when management comes to the table and [finds] that every creative union in the business [is] standing by each other in a chain of solidarity? There wouldn’t be any need for a strike since ‘management’ wouldn’t have a leg to stand on.”

The AMPTP temporarily suspended negotiations with the WGA so it could negotiate its contract with Teamsters Local 399 and other craft unions. That agreement was reached Aug. 2, but plans to sit down again with writers have not been announced.

More:  BackStage.com



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