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Bargaining writers, studios yell ‘Cut!’

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TESS VIGELAND: Hollywood writers and the studios they work for finally yelled “cut!” at the bargining table last night. Twelve thousand members of the Writer’s Guild could walk off the job any moment now.
The main sticking point is how writers will be compensated when their work appears somewhere other than the silver or TV screens. Without a deal, viewers could find themselves without new episodes of their favorite shows. And Marketplace’s Sam Eaton tells us there could be a serious economic hit to a place that’s called Tinsel Town home for a reason.

SAM EATON: In 1988 the writer’s union’s five month walkout cost Los Angeles a half billion dollars in lost wages. Jack Kyser, with the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, says today that number would be in the billions. And that’s not including the multiplier effect on thousands of other businesses and workers who depend on the industry.

JACK KYSER: Everything from equipment rental, construction supplies. You gotta build sets. Caterers, limos, hotels. It would have a significant impact.

Kyser says the entertainment industry is L.A. County’s third largest employer, injecting some $30 billion a year into the economy. UCLA economist Jerry Nickelsburg says the strike’s price tag will have everything to do with time.

JERRY NICKELSBURG: The economic impact of the strike is going to depend crucially upon how long the strike is.

He says studios have been stockpiling material for months as a way to ride out a short strike.

NICKELSBURG: So the individuals involved in that production still worked, they simply worked earlier and they worked longer hours.

That does little to change the impact on institutions like Art’s Deli in Studio City. Owner Harold Ginsberg says the entertainment industry accounts for about 30 percent of his business.

HAROLD GINSBERG: As I was telling somebody when we put the key in the door and close at night you just, as a restauranteur, you hope that the next day when you open the door people are going to come back in.

He says with a possible strike announcement tonight, that saying now takes on new meaning.

In Los Angeles, I’m Sam Eaton for Marketplace.

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