There's no ignoring it now; the doomsday talk of a Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike is more than just idle chitchat. On Thursday night, members of the WGA Negotiating Committee announced their unanimous decision to strike, as discussions between the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and the WGA have crumbled without any resolution.
At the heart of the negotiations, of course, is money. With "new media"--that is, online distribution of television and films on services like iTunes and digitally streaming content over the Web--looking more and more like the way entertainment will be consumed in the future, writers want their share.
The main request from the WGA is that the AMPTP extend the current formula for profit-sharing of DVD sales to new media. The AMPTP isn't quite ready to do that yet; it first wants to see where the whole new media thing goes, and determine what kind of money can be made off of ad-sponsored streaming or download sales.
"We want to make a deal. We think doing so is in your best interests, in your members' best interests, in the best interests of our companies and in the best interests of the industry," AMPTP president Nick Counter said in a statement on October 31 directed at the WGA. "But, as I said, no further movement is possible to close the gap between us so long as your DVD proposal remains on the table."
While a strike is yet to be 100 percent officially declared, the negotiating committee's recommendation to strike all but guarantees it. Insiders say the likely start date would be next Monday, November 5, according to Variety. Contracts between the WGA and AMPTP expired October 31 at midnight.
[UPDATE] The strike has been confirmed, and will begin on Monday barring the two sides reaching an agreement.
Unless agreements are reached soon, this could be the first of many dominoes to fall. The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and Directors Guild of America (DGA) could potentially follow suit when their contracts expire next year. SAG has been openly vocal about its support of the WGA.
"In the event of a strike by the Writers Guild of America it is important to remember that the Screen Actors Guild's support of the Writers Guild is steadfast and will remain so," said a bulletin to SAG members on the organization's Web site. "We encourage you, on your own time, to walk any picket line that has been set up by the Writers Guild to show your support of their effort."
The last major writers' strike occurred in 1988 and lasted for 22 weeks.
For more on the writers strike, check out TV.com's Strike Source, featuring up-to-date statuses on shows, the latest information, and more.