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Leaders of Writers Guild, SAG strategize

March 17, 2007|Richard Verrier | Times Staff Writer

Union leaders representing Hollywood writers and actors met Friday in the first of several key meetings to discuss what are expected to be contentious issues in upcoming contract talks with studios.

Leaders of the Screen Actors Guild and the Writers Guild of America, West, want to show studios that they are united heading into talks this year and in 2008.

Gathering at SAG's Mid-Wilshire headquarters, union officials discussed such topics as industry data relating to DVDs sales, Internet downloads and other new-media formats that are rapidly changing the way entertainment is delivered.

"It was an extremely productive meeting," said Paul Christie, president of SAG's New York branch. "It was good for all of us."

Christie and other union representatives declined to discuss details of the meeting, saying they were confidential. Studio officials declined to comment.

The gathering comes at a time of mounting tensions between actors and writers and major Hollywood studios, primarily over concerns that talent will be shortchanged when their work is shown or rebroadcast over the Internet.

Many Hollywood observers predict that the WGA won't reach a deal with producers before its pact expires Oct. 31. That could lead to a strike.

Producers have accused WGA officials of destabilizing production in Hollywood by refusing to enter early negotiations. WGA officials have said they're prepared to begin talks in July. The actors' contract expires in June 2008.

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richard.verrier@latimes.com

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