Writers strike still uncertain as midnight deadline looms

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Hollywood continued to hold its collective breath on Monday.

As the midnight deadline loomed for the potential start of a strike by the Writers Guild of America, those outside the negotiations were left wondering whether they would wake up to news of a last-minute agreement — or writers walking picket lines.

If the Guild, which represents those who write for TV and film, can’t reach a new contract or agree to extend the negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the studios, the writers will go out on strike for the first time in nearly a decade. The current agreement expires at midnight.

As of press time, no resolution had been announced.

Over the weekend and throughout Monday, there had been conflicting reports — which ranged from optimism about an imminent deal to reports of a memo telling writers to plan on hitting the picket lines Tuesday — but little concrete news.

Representatives for the writers and producers are engaged in a media blackout, meaning it is unclear how far apart the sides remain or how likely a strike will be called.

At the heart of the impasse between writers and producers are issues such as the union’s health plan, which faces a deficit, its pension plan and provisions for paying writers what they believe they should get in a landscape that has changed dramatically in recent years with shortening of seasons from 20-plus episodes to 10 or 13, cutting the amount of money they’ve received under per-episode paychecks.

In 2007 and early 2008, a 100-day writers strike halted productions on numerous shows, led to a shortened television season and even affected major film releases.

The dispute is driven in large part by shifts in how television is consumed, with streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon joining broadcast and cable TV and garnering viewers, critical and audience love, and awards.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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