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ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
December 29

Entertainment News December 29 - TOP 3 Stories for Friday

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STRIKE COSTING WRITERS UPWARDS TO $151 MILLIOM

After taking most of the week off, the AMPTP and the WGA have resumed sniping at each other.

The Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers announced Friday morning that its calculation of how much the eight-week strike has cost writers -- $151.2 million -- had topped the guild's calculation of the increase it had asked for at the negotiating table. And it continued to refer to guild leaders dismissively as "organizers."

"It's official: The people in charge at the WGA have led working writers into a strike that has now cost those working writers more in salary and benefits than the WGA's organizers ever expected to gain from the strike," the AMPTP statement said. "And the strike continues because the union's leaders are focused on jurisdictional issues that would expand their own power, at the expense of the new media issues that working writers care most about."

The AMPTP also posted a video about its announcement on the YouTube site -- where WGA members and supporters have posted hundreds of pro-guild videos over the last two months.

By noon, the WGA had responded with a statement asserting that it's the AMPTP's fault for ditching negotiations on Dec. 7. That's when the AMPTP insisted that six WGA proposals -- including two on jurisdiction and one on sympathy strikes -- had to be dropped as a condition of continuing the talks.

The WGA also insisted Friday that the key issues involve new-media compensation.

DGA TO BEGIN TALKS WITH PRODUCERS NEXT WEEK

Though it hasn't been officially announced, Jan. 7 has emerged as a likely start date for negotiations between the DGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers.

Neither side confirmed the date Thursday, but one non-DGA labor insider said there's a growing expectation that talks will launch in less than two weeks.

The DGA announced Dec. 13 that it had run out of patience with the lack of progress in the WGA's negotiations and would schedule its own talks in January if there were no writers' deal by the end of the year. DGA president Michael Apted said at the time, "In order to give the WGA and the AMPTP one last chance to get back to the table, we will not schedule our negotiations to begin until after the New Year, and then only if an appropriate basis for negotiations can be established."

The striking WGA and the AMPTP have not met since Dec. 7, when those talks cratered after the majors demanded that the guild remove half a dozen proposals from the table as a condition of continued bargaining. Since then, both sides have continued their war of words over where the blame lies.

Reps of the DGA and WGA met last week to share info the DGA has developed from its research and studies in the new-media arena. The helmers have not disclosed details of their proposal but have indicated that they'll be seeking advances in digital compensation and will come in with a focused proposal that probably won't include demands in such areas as expansion of jurisdiction.

If the DGA can make a deal, the pact's new-media terms are likely to be used as a template for the majors' subsequent agreements with the WGA and SAG.

The DGA and SAG contracts both expire on June 30. SAG is expected to begin negotiating in the spring.

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