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Writers, producers make major progress

After weeks of stalled talks, negotiators in the entertainment writers strike have suddenly made “substantial progress” in their discussions, people with knowledge of the talks said Saturday, raising hopes in Hollywood that a settlement could come as early as this week.

Representatives of the Writers Guild of America and the major movie studios and TV networks have settled all but one of the issues that led the labor union’s 10,500 members to walk out on Nov. 5, sources said. The final dispute, over the formula for compensating writers when programs are streamed over the Internet, will require more discussions this week.

Representatives of the guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers declined to comment Saturday, citing an agreement by the two sides to a media blackout.

Although “no one will say it’s done,” a person with knowledge of the discussions said, a “staggering amount” of progress was made Friday after nine hours of informal discussions in Los Angeles. Another person who is close to the allied movie and TV studios described the movement in the talks as “substantial.”

A settlement would restart production of TV dramas and sitcoms, which ground to a halt not long after writers on both coasts walked out 13 weeks ago. A quick resolution would enable the broadcast networks to wind up this disrupted TV season with at least some original fare. However, industry executives say that, even if a deal is struck in the next few days, it could take a few weeks for benched series to get going again.


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