Negotiators for striking screenwriters and television and movie producers continued marathon contract talks past a midnight deadline Tuesday in an effort to settle a 5-month-old strike in time to save the fall TV season.
The midnight deadline was imposed by Floyd Wood, district director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, after officials of the 9,600-member Writers Guild of America and the 200-member Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers failed to resolve their differences during two 13-hour meetings over the weekend.But the two sides continued talks that had resumed at 3 p.m. Monday into the morning hours Tuesday, said guild spokeswoman Cheryl Rhoden.
The walkout, in its 22nd week, has virtually shut down Hollywood, putting thousands of studio employees out of work and forcing network executives and production companies to look to Europe and elsewhere for new material.
All three major television networks have already vowed not to use programming produced under a separate WGA agreement with at least 150 smaller production companies.
"Conventional wisdom says that Aug. 1 is the deadline for saving the season," said Lionel Chetwynd, a member of a dissident coalition within the Writers Guild that urged members to approve the producers' last offer. "Even then I don't know if they can get a whole season out."
Federal mediator Leonard Farrell imposed a news blackout on the latest contract talks. The two sides have not met since WGA members in Los Angeles and New York overwhelmingly rejected the producers' previous contract offer June 22.