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Striking writers to hear contract proposal

Hollywood Labor
Writers have been striking since Nov. 5. The major sticking point is residuals for online broadcasts of projects they've worked on.Nick Ut / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Members of the striking Writers Guild of America will gather Saturday in Los Angeles and New York to be briefed on a possible contract with Hollywood studios.

If writers are pleased with what they hear, the meetings could be a major step toward a resolution of the three-month-old strike.

Guild leaders remained cautious about a settlement while a proposed contract was being drafted based on last week’s breakthrough talks with studio executives.

In an e-mail sent late Monday to guild members, negotiations committee chief John Bowman said important progress had been made but significant points remained to be settled.

The guild won’t make a formal decision on the proposed contract until the informational membership meetings are held Saturday, Bowman said.

The sessions will be closed to the media.

In his e-mail, Bowman urged members to “remain on the picket lines, united and strong.”

Meanwhile, Vanity Fair magazine said it was canceling its annual Academy Awards party, typically the hottest party in town on Oscar night.

“After much consideration, and in support of the writers and everyone else affected by this strike, we have decided that this is not the appropriate year to hold our annual Oscar party,” said a statement posted on

The writers strike, which began Nov. 5 and has brought the entertainment industry to a standstill, centers on the issue of new-media compensation.

Last month, studios reached a tentative deal with the Directors Guild of America that included increased residuals for paid Internet downloads of movies and TV programs and established residual rates for ad-supported streaming of programs.

Specifics of the writers guild negotiations have not been disclosed, but it could improve on the directors agreement for some Internet residuals, according to a person close to the talks who was not authorized to publicly comment and requested anonymity.

Meanwhile, the film community was holding its breath over the fate of the Feb. 24 Academy Awards. The writers guild has not agreed to let its striking members work on the show, and the threat of pickets could keep actors from attending the industry showcase.

Last month’s Golden Globes were devastated when actors refused to participate.

At an Oscar nominees lunch on Monday, actors expressed hope that the show will go on but were supportive of the writers. Producers of the ceremony have said they will put on a show, even if the strike has not ended.

“I’ve said all along, and I mean it, this is lovely and extraordinary and a dream, but at the end of the day, people’s livelihoods are more important,” said Amy Ryan, a supporting-actress nominee for “Gone Baby Gone.”

“So hopefully the strike gets settled and people can go back to work,” she said.

Javier Bardem, nominated as best supporting actor for “No Country for Old Men,” said he would support the strike and skip a picketed Oscars.

“I belong to a union and I think they’re fighting for the right reasons and you want to support that,” he said. “Hopefully they will get to an agreement soon because it’s affecting a lot of people now.”