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WGA Pact Optimism Grows

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(BPI) Negotiations for a new Writers Guild of America film and TV contract have entered the home stretch, with less than a week to go until the guild's current contract expires at midnight May 1.

Guild and company negotiators met all last week and then worked separately through the weekend in preparation for the resumption of bargaining Mon., April 23.

The two sides still have a long way to go to close the $100 million gap in their respective bargaining positions, but there are signs that have led some observers, including Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, to be optimistic that both the WGA and the Screen Actors Guild—which will start its own negotiations for a new contract next month—can reach agreements with the companies without a strike.

"I'm very optimistic from the words I've gotten from the heads of the unions and the negotiators representing the studios," Riordan said at an April 19 press conference.

SAG president William Daniels, in an April 13 message to the guild's membership, also expressed optimism about the WGA negotiations. He said that he has "been led to believe that the WGA remains optimistic about achieving an agreement before [the] contract deadline of May 1." As for SAG's own negotiations, Daniels has repeatedly said that "there is a deal to be made."

The contract talks between the WGA and the companies got under way Jan. 22 but broke off six weeks later so guild officials could talk to their members about the negotiations without breaking the media blackout that had been imposed while they were at the bargaining table.

The two sides got back to the bargaining table April 16, but so far, they haven't been bargaining about major residuals issues that will have to be resolved if a deal is to be made and a strike averted.

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