The Hollywood screenwriters strike — more than two months old — is roiling the entertainment industry afresh. Nine weeks after writers went on strike over payment for work distributed online and in other new media, there's news Monday that a deal has been reached between the Writers Guild of America and the film company headed by actor Tom Cruise.
After talks broke down between movie studios and the Writers Guild, the WGA started approaching independent production companies, hoping to negotiate individual interim agreements that would allow writers to go back to work on those companies' projects. Cruise's outfit, United Artists, is the first movie company to sign such a deal; David Letterman's TV production company signed a similar pact last week that allowed its writers to return to work.
Meanwhile, the writers strike has pretty much derailed the Golden Globe Awards, scheduled for Jan. 13. Guild writers are planning to picket the ceremony if it's televised, and the president of the Screen Actors Guild said last week that his union was in "unanimous agreement" that its members would not cross the picket line to attend the show. That means the big stars won't show up to collect their awards if there's a picket.
Monday night, two popular Comedy Central shows return to the air for the first time since their writers joined the picket lines. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report with Stephen Colbert will air back-to-back once again starting at 11 p.m. Eastern time.
It remains to be seen whether the two hosts can generate enough content for their news-driven shows without the help of their writers — or if they can win back audiences whose numbers have shrunk by as much as 50 percent since the strike began in November.
The Writers Guild has no plans to go back to the bargaining table. And the Directors Guild is preparing to start its own round of contract negotiations with the studios very soon.