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ALEX COHEN, host:

Speaking about writing, this weekend the Hollywood writer's strike could come to an end. There is a deal that reportedly will be finalized today. The writers will get a look at it tomorrow, and then they'll vote Sunday. So some industry folks might be back to work as soon as Monday.

The last three months of the strike has cost an estimated $730 million in wages alone, says local economist Jack Keiser(ph). But, he argues, the economic impact is really much more than that.

Mr. JACK KEISER (Economist): There is an indirect impact, because these people, obviously, are nervous. They're not out to eating in restaurants as much, obviously not shopping at the mall or thinking about buying a new car. And when you factor in the ripple impact it's over $2 billion.

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

DAY TO DAY's been talking to Lynette Rice about the strike. She's a senior writer for Entertainment Weekly. Lynette, welcome back to DAY TO DAY. And what do you know about this deal?

Ms. LYNETTE RICE (Writer, Entertainment Weekly): From what we can gather - and again, you have to understand that there's a press blackout for the negotiations. So anything any reporter gets right now is based on rumor and innuendo. And that's probably a good thing, because if there wasn't a press blackout they probably wouldn't have been able to hammer out a draft proposal.

But from what I've been able to gather, there's definitely some improvement on the key issue and that's those permanent downloads. That the money that they can get in residuals from whenever a consumer downloads their favorite TV show or their favorite movie.

CHADWICK: So this is the issue of I'm a writer for a television program, and if that television program is delivered over the Internet rather than a broadcast or on cable then I want some money for it.

Ms. RICE: Absolutely. I mean, if - for any fan you can go to a network Web site and catch up on your favorite show. You see that there is some money being made there, because each stream starts with an ad. So the writers want to know, hey, if you're going to do that I want to be paid for that.

CHADWICK: So from what you know of the writers and what you know so far of this deal and a strike that's gone on, I think, longer than people expected, is this enough?

Ms. RICE: I'm sure there will always be those who say it's not enough. There will certainly be those who will question, gee whiz, was it worth it. I think it's worth it now, because I think for the most part there's strike fatigue in town. I mean, this is - would've thunk this would've gone on this long that we've seen so many award shows go caput. And many more, you know, threatened because of it. So I think strike fatigue will probably drive the final vote as much as, yeah, that's good enough.

CHADWICK: Okay. For people who are tired of hearing about this on the radio and would prefer to watch television, what's this going to mean for TV viewers?

Ms. RICE: Well, unfortunately, you know, TV can't start immediately. It's going to take anywhere from two to four weeks for shows to really get back up and running. I mean, those writers have to get back in the room. They've got to write those great scripts. Once those are done, then they get back into the studio and start shooting. So I don't think the actors will really be back on their sets until early March, and we probably won't start seeing fresh episodes until, you know, later that month, more like, you know, early April.

So that leaves some really hard decisions for the networks. Do I - you know, do they bring back a show for three or four episodes and then that's the end of the season or do they just, you know, say, you know, maybe it's better just to hold this bad boy to fall. You know, we bring it back with a re-launch. That sort of thing.

CHADWICK: Is this going to change the industry in any way, do you think?

Ms. RICE: Most definitely. The most glaring difference is the onset of even more reality shows. I mean, we already knew they were here to stay. Whenever a reality show does extremely well on the network that means, hey, that's one less hour I have to fill with a scripted show.

You know, there's a show called "Big Brother" that's about to start on CBS. And this is the first time this summer show has received a winter run, and it'll run three times a week. And if that show does really well for CBS, you know, what's to say that's they don't want to just keep it that way until May. I mean, let that show run. And that means those are a couple of time slots that aren't being filled by a scripted show. I mean, that's got to make writers shudder.

CHADWICK: Lynette Rice, a senior writer for Entertainment Weekly on the news that the Hollywood writers strike may end this weekend. Lynette, thank you.

Ms. RICE: Thank you.

(Soundbite of music)

CHADWICK: Celebrity rehab just ahead. Stay with us for the good stuff on DAY TO DAY.

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