Could TV Season Be Salvaged?

The Writers Guild is planning to hold meetings with its members over the weekend about the ongoing contract negotiations. After months of a work stoppage, there are signs that the stalemate may be close to a resolution.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

There are signs in Hollywood that an end to the writers strike is at hand. The two sides are talking and the Writers Guild is holding meetings this weekend to update members on contract negotiations. NPR's Kim Masters joins us now. She reports on the business of Hollywood. Good morning, Kim.

KIM MASTERS: Good morning, Renee.

MONTAGNE: What do we know about a potential deal to end this strike, which is now in its fourth month?

KIM MASTERS: Yes, it has been a really bitter and divisive situation and I think hurt feelings will linger after the strike is resolved. But as you know, last month the Directors Guild made a deal and that has provided a sort of a template. The writers have gone in and attempted to sweeten that deal and they are approaching a resolution.

MONTAGNE: But nobody's talking. None of those involved are talking to the media.

MASTERS: Right, there's a news blackout, and the key sticking point in this negotiation has been how the writers are going to be compensated when their work is streamed over the Internet. And there have been conflicting reports about what the proposal is that will break that logjam, but what's going to happen on Saturday is that the leadership of the Guild will present this deal to the members, hoping for resounding applause. There may be some members who feel that it's not good enough, but the hope is, I think, that they will be able to get the blessing. A lot of writers are really keen to get back to work.

MONTAGNE: So if it works, details about the agreement would come out later. But if the strike is resolved, how quickly can scripted television shows get back on the air?

MASTERS: Well, it could be, they could start working on them as soon as next week and that would make it about four to six weeks for sitcoms and a little bit longer for scripted dramas. But certainly, you know, there's eagerness to get those television shows back on the air and salvage some of the current season.

MONTAGNE: What about the movies? The impact of the strike hasn't been as great on features, but it's also, for those of us out here it's kind of hard to tell.

MASTERS: Yeah, it is a funny thing with movies. I mean, there have been some major movies that have been held up because the script wasn't quite ready, including the sequel or prequel to "The Da Vinci Code." But concern is, is that we're not sure what's going to happen with the actors because the Screen Actors Guild has made it clear that they are going to demand a pretty enriched deal, and so the question is, you have to get your movie into production in time in case the actors walk out. And that can happen in June, so people are thinking if they don't start their movies about by March, they won't get finished in case there is an actors strike.

MONTAGNE: And then to the question of the hour for a lot of TV viewers out there, are the Oscars going to go on?

MASTERS: Yes, I have been predicting for some time that the Oscars will go on. It's been my belief that the studios have played this exactly the way they wanted to. They've had a strike. They've been able to drop contracts with a lot of people they wanted to get rid of, and now, you know what, it's time to go back to work. And the Oscars, I believe, will go on.

MONTAGNE: NPR's Kim Masters, thanks very much.

MASTERS: Thank you.

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