TV and Film writers hold last rally before contract talks resume
LOS ANGELES (AP) Film and TV writers joined with actors, other union members and even tourists Tuesday for a last rally before contract talks resume next week with studios and producers.About 4,000 people stretching three city blocks marched down Hollywood Boulevard, accompanied at one point by a small brass ensemble from the musician’s union playing the theme song from “Rocky.”Randamp;B singer Alicia Keys entertained the crowd from the back of a pickup truck with a song from her new album.When the crowd reached historic Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, John Bowman, chief negotiator for the Writers Guild of America, rallied the troops and urged a swift conclusion to the standoff that began when writers walked off the job Nov. 5.”You have an enormous strategic advantage online us, your writers,” Bowman said in remarks aimed at studio chiefs and producers. The two sides have clashed over paying writers for reruns of their work online and for original work written for the Internet.”We are your partners and together, we’ll conquer the Internet. Pay us and we’ll shut up and go back to work.”Let’s get this done by Christmas,” he concluded.Writers will meet with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on Monday for the first time since they went on strike.Studios chiefs and the heads of TV networks sounded a conciliatory note Tuesday in messages sent to their employees.”The resumption of talks is very welcome news indeed to everyone in our business,” the message read. “We are all, producers and writers alike, looking forward to an end to this strike and realize that there’s no way it can be resolved unless both sides are talking.”The message was sent by the heads of Warner Bros., CBS and other studios.”We believe that a new, fair deal is possible,” the message read. “As an industry, we have done such deals before. We will do them again.”Members of Teamsters Local 399, which represents truck drivers, casting directors and location managers, marched with writers. Local Secretary-Treasurer Leo Reed urged writers to “keep that line up until you get a decent contract.”Some tourists, including Pranar Patel and his wife Khyati of Michigan, mingled in the crowd, wondering if the strike was being staged for a movie.Pranar said he didn’t know writers were on strike. He said he was excited to meet one of the writers of the Fox animated show “Family Guy.”James Bruner, a feature film writer, and his writer wife, Elizabeth Stevens, said they were “cautiously optimistic” about the upcoming talks.”Now that they’re talking again, everything looks better,” Bruner said.
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