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WGA Talks Resume Apr. 17

Negotiations for a new Writers Guild of America film and television contract will resume Apr. 17—only two weeks before the expiration of the WGA's current pact. The guild and the companies haven't met at the bargaining table since Mar. 1, when talks broke off after six weeks of bargaining. When the talks resume, the two sides will have to overcome serious differences if a deal is to be made and a threatened strike averted.

The two sides remain far apart on their economic proposals for residuals from films shown on videocassettes and on TV shows that are rebroadcast in foreign markets and on basic cable. The guild, for instance, wants $21 million in additional foreign TV residuals over the next three years—about $20 million more than the companies are offering. On home video, the guild wants an additional $8 million over three years—$8 million more than the companies are offering.

And yet, despite those differences, the two sides are not all that far apart on an overall deal. Only about $100 million separates the two bargaining positions—and that's spread out over the three years of the contract. Many observers believe that the two sides can find a way to bridge a difference of only $33 million a year on a contract that is worth about $1.2 billion for writers annually. The alternative is an industry-crippling strike.

Concern about such a strike caused Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan to enter the fray on Apr. 9 when he announced that the city has commissioned a study to look at the impact a strike by writers and actors would have on the local economy.

The Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. has estimated that a strike by writers and actors would cost the local economy about $2 billion a month. The study will be performed by the Milken Institute, a non-partisan economic think tank, and by Sebago Associates, a public policy consulting firm.

—David Robb (BPI)

L.A. Film Festival Turns Seven

It sounded like a good idea at the time—a well-organized, well-picked independent film festival right in the heart of Hollywood. But would it succeed? Nearing its seventh year, the Los Angeles Film Festival has proven that, indeed, there is a place for such an event. What began as a relatively small endeavor attended by 3,500 people has exploded into a nearly sold-out festival frequented by 30,000.

Now presented by IFP/West (Independent Feature Project/West, a nonprofit organization for filmmakers), this year's festival kicks off Apr. 20 and runs through Apr. 28. The festival will offer programs at the Directors Guild of America, Laemmle Sunset 5, Harmony Gold, and the Los Angeles Film School.

Highlights of this year's celebration will include the world premiere of local writer/director Allison Anders' new film, Things Behind the Sun, on the festival's closing night, as well as more than 45 other narrative and documentary features. The festival will also screen short films and present panel discussions and seminars on such topics as digital filmmaking, directing, acting, and producing. Screening and ticket packages can be purchased from the festival's website, www.lafilmfest.com, or through Ticketweb at (800) 965-4827.

L.A. Production Soars in 2001

Off-lot feature film production in Los Angeles was up 45 percent for the first quarter of the year compared with the same time frame last year—a sign that filmmakers are hurrying to beat possible strike deadlines by writers and actors. The Entertainment Industry Development Corp., which issues film permits in Los Angeles, said filmmakers shot the equivalent of 3,339 production days on the streets of Los Angeles during the first three months of this year—up 45 percent from the 2,302 days shot during the first three months of 2000.

Off-lot television production also is up for the year. According to the EIDC, television productions worked the equivalent of 3,194 days on the streets of Los Angeles during the first three months of this year—up 15 percent from the same three months last year.

Commercial work in Los Angeles is slowing down, though production days during the first quarter of the year were about the same as the first quarter of last year. Off-lot commercial work hit a peak of 810 days in January, then fell to 682 days in February and 645 days last month.

—David Robb (BPI)

Off the Wire…

PACIFIC NORTHWEST—A staged reading of Peter Karpati's Everywoman will be presented on Apr. 16 at Artists Repertory Theatre in Portland, Ore. The PlayLab reading is part of a 10-day residency by Karpati and dramaturg Tibor Soltenszky presented in partnership with the Portland International Performance Festival, the Portland University Theater Arts Department, and A.R.T. (503) 241-1278…

Seattle Children's Theatre will present the world premiere of Sideways Stories From Wayside School, based on the best-selling books by Louis Sachar, Mar. 23-June 10 at the Charlotte Martin Theatre in Seattle. (206) 441-3322.

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA—The Rough Theatre Company in San Francisco will present Daytrippers 3, a marathon of short plays written, rehearsed, and performed in one day, Apr. 14, 21, and 28 at the BayFront Theatre in San Francisco. (415) 990-8248…

The California Shakespeare Festival in Berkeley has announced its 2001 season: William Shakespeare's Cymbeline, June 2-24; Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth, July 7-29; Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet, Aug. 11-Sept. 2, and Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, Sept. 15-Oct. 7. Plays are presented in the Bruns Memorial Amphitheater in the East Bay hills between Berkeley and Orinda. (510) 548-9666…

American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco has announced its 2001-'02 season: Harold Pinter's Celebration, and The Room, Sept. 19-Oct. 14; James Joyce's The Dead, Nov. 1-25; Amy Freed's The Beard of Avon, Jan. 16-Feb. 10; Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie, Apr. 3-Apr. 28; Maxim Gorky's The Mother, starring Olympia Dukakis, May 15-Jun. 9; Sam Shepard's Buried Child, June 19-July 14; A Christmas Carol, Dec. 12-29, and Spalding Gray's Swimming to Cambodia, Dec. 26-31. (415) 749-2250.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA—The AT&T Foundation and Theatre Communications Group, the national organization for the American theatre, have announced AT&T: First Stage, a pilot program to support commissions of new musicals, plays, adaptations, and translations for family audiences. The program is currently open for application from all Theatre Communications Group member theatres. Intent to apply card (required) deadline is May 11; grant application form and supporting materials deadline is May 21. (212) 697-5230 or e-mail AT&Tgrants @tcg.org…

Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center will present Life Stories Workshop Performance on Apr. 12 at Beyond Baroque in Venice. (310) 822-3006…

The Cotsen Center for Puppetry and the Arts will present Bey Guh—A Poet Sings, an original experimental puppetry piece inspired by The Songs of Ch'u, a book of ancient Chinese poems written around 300 B.C., and the life of exiled poet Chu Yuan, Apr. 12-14 in Butler Building No. 2 at California Institute of the Arts in Valencia. Admission is free and the event is open to the public. (661) 253-7800…

Highways Performance Space will present Jude Narita's With Darkness Behind Us, Daylight Has Come, Apr. 12-14 & 20-21 at Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica. This multimedia one-woman play deals with the effects of the internment camps on three different generations of Japanese-American women in the Los Angeles area. (310) 315-1459…

The NOTEworthy Workshop Series in association with Playwrights' Arena will present Lucy J. Kim's The Ilesoge, Apr. 12-15 at Theatre of NOTE in Hollywood. (323) 883-1727…

Theatre of Hope will present NoHo Millennium Children's Art & Poetry Festival on Apr. 14 in the Forum parking area in front of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in North Hollywood. The festival, sponsored by Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency and Valley South Regional Arts Council, offers workshops for kids in arts and performance, an art gallery, marketplace, and food concessions. Admission is free. (818) 766-9702, ext. 4…

The Regina Klenjoski Dance Company will present A Night at the Armstrong on Apr. 14 in the James Armstrong Theatre in Torrance. Klenjoski, a contemporary choreographer and dance educator dedicated to creating opportunities for young South Bay artists to explore their creativity, will showcase local students from two outreach programs alongside her professional company in a powerful style of dance. (310) 781-7171…

Speaking of Stories will present John Cleese and Guests on Apr. 16 at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara. Joined by Benjamin Bottoms and Margaret Kemp, the cast will read tales from Somerset Maugham, Alice Walker, and Jack London. A benefit reception will immediately follow the performance. (805) 963-0761…

The Music Center will present the 13th Annual Spotlight Awards on Apr. 17 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Music Center in Downtown L.A. Launched in 1988 by executive producer Walter Grauman, the Music Center Spotlight Awards program is a recognition and scholarship program for Southern California's most gifted young people who plan performing and visual arts careers. Emmy-award winning actor John Lithgow will be master of ceremonies, and the Kim Richmond Jazz Orchestra will provide accompaniment. (213) 202-2271…

Roma Maffia, Andrea Martin, and Doris Roberts will star in Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues, Apr. 17-May 6 at the Canon Theater in Beverly Hills. (310) 859-2830…

Center Theatre Group's Ahmanson Theatre has designated the 8 p.m. performance of 3hree on Apr. 18 as Pay What You Can. Tickets for the performance may be purchased at the Ahmanson Theatre box office by cash only, on the day of the performance. (213) 628-2772…

The Orange County Performing Arts Center will present the Tony Award-winning musical Fosse, Apr. 18-29 at OCPAC's Segerstrom Hall in Costa Mesa. (714) 556-2787.

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