Labor disputes cloud Hollywood’s future

Marketplace Staff Jan 18, 2008

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Scott Jagow: Hollywood’s labor dispute just got a little more interesting. Yesterday, the Directors Guild struck a tentative deal with the studios. No progress, though, with the writers.

Marketplace’s Tess Vigeland has been following the strike throughout. Tess, what’s in the director’s deal versus what the writer’s want from the studios?

Tess Vigeland: There are differences in the formulas, but you’ve actually seen that the directors got more out of their deal than the producers ever offered to the writers.

Jagow: Well, how much pressure do you think this will put on the negotiations between the writers and the studios?

Vigeland: Well, it’s been a very different tone between the directors and the producers, and the writers and the producers. The writers’ strike has been going on now for what, 11 weeks? And there’s been a whole lot of nastiness back-and-forth between the parties. So it’s really unclear whether this is going to set a benchmark, or if the Writers Guild will decide that maybe they’ll just hang on until the Screen Actors Guild starts its negotiations in June.

Jagow: Yeah, but there seems to be mounting pressure with the writers themselves — they’re not working, their colleagues that are in other fields are not working… It seems like there’s got to be a little more pressure here.

Vigeland: Oh, there is, Scott — lots of people are losing a whole lot of money, as you point out. In fact, all four TV networks have canceled some of their contracts with writers who had new shows and things like that…

The Writers Guild issued a statement yesterday saying it plans to carefully analyze the directors’ deal. But in the meantime, the networks are getting close to burning up all their original episodes of popular dramas and comedies. And now there’s a real scramble on to try to get a deal before the Oscars, or they may have to do what happened to the Golden Globes.

Jagow: All right — Marketplace’s Tess Vigeland. Thank you.

Vigeland: Thanks, Scott.

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