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Writers Guild, Producers Hang Tough: Negotiations Move Past 23rd Day Without Agreement

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Negotiators for the Writers Guild of America, East and west and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) met in separate caucuses Tuesday to evaluate proposals exchanged on Feb. 15. The guild said at press time Tuesday night that negotiations between its bargainers and the companies' were to resume Wednesday.

Tuesday's gathering was day 23 of the negotiations, originally scheduled to last only two weeks.

The continuing talks seem to indicate that both sides want to avoid a strike, which has been the chief fearful talk of the industry this winter.

But to avert a walkout, the two sides will still have to move closer on major issues which still seriously separate them, according to sources close to the talks.

Meanwhile, each side is taking some potshots. The guild in early February filed unfair labor practices against NBC and some associates for not providing information essential to the bargaining process.

Universal Studios countered, according to The Hollywood Reporter, by issuing a letter stating that WGA west had "unlawfully threatened and coerced our writers and other writers in the industry in an attempt to prevent them from writing scripts which the guild contends are being "stockpiled' in the event of a strike."

The guild had said last week it was considering bringing charges against its own members for helping TV production firms stockpile scripts as strike insurance.

The guild told its members "some companies...are still trying to stockpile scripts as a method of attempting to protect future production from a potential work stoppage that may-or may not-occur."

The guild has formed a panel to study the stockpiling issue. According to the guild, the group will attempt to determine how widespread the problem is, and whether any members should be brought before the guild on charges of aiding stockpiling.

According to THR, John Wells, WGA west's president, wrote members in September urging them to avoid stockpiling.

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