Hollywood Writers Vote to End Strike, But Business as Usual Is Unlikely

By Staff Report

Feb. 13, 2008

After three months of acrimony, an armistice between Hollywood’s writers and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers was finally approved late on Tuesday, February 12. The final vote: 92.5 percent of 3,775 writers who turned out in Los Angeles and New York to cast ballots or fax in proxies voted in favor of ending the 100-day strike, according to the Writers Guild America.

“The strike is over. Our membership has voted, and writers can go back to work,” Patric M. Verrone, president of the Writers Guild of America, West, said in a statement.

But while it’s safe to say writers are heading back to work, things are hardly back to normal: Networks that had exercised force majeure clauses to slash deals with writers might not be so quick to re-sign nearly as much talent as before. Having larded prime time with reality shows and other stopgaps, many writers and agents simply do not expect scripted TV to return to previous levels next season—let alone this spring.

At every broadcast network, executives were clustered in conference rooms and around white boards Wednesday, February 13, seeking to undo the ataxia that the WGA work stoppage had unleashed on their shooting schedules and broadcast days. Hard decisions were being made about which shows would shoot new episodes, which would be scuttled, and which would be salted away until fall.

The strike was, above all things, a strike about the digital future.

Determined not to miss out on a bonanza of cash akin to the DVD and home video windfall it missed out on 20 years ago, writers did manage to successfully gain a toehold on the Web: According to a 2007 PricewaterhouseCoopers forecast, half of all entertainment industry growth will be generated through online and mobile by 2011. In the long run, many writers say, the near-term pain will have been worth it.

WGA members will next vote to ratify a tentative three-year contract with the AMPTP, according the guild.

Filed by Claude Brodesser-Akner of Advertising Age, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail

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