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Writers, studios will keep talking

A break in negotiations is announced Thursday morning  

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Hollywood writers are still turning out scripts as negotiators for the Writers Guild of America and studio executives continued talks to reach a new contract agreement.

Talks went until after 1 a.m. (4 a.m. EDT) today, with both sides agreeing to meet again around 10 a.m.

"There have been no decisions made, other than to continue to talk," said WGA spokeswoman Cheryl Rhoden. She described the talks as "very intense."

Brian Liden, speaking for the Alliance of Motion Picture Television Producers, said, "I think both parties are interested in reaching a settlement."

With tens of thousands of people employed in film and television production in the city, a writers' strike could hit the Los Angeles economy hard.

Wednesday afternoon, Dreamworks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg arrived at the negotiations site. When asked by reporters why he was there, he replied "I'm here to work." In earlier statements, Katzenberg had said he would leave the negotiating up to the negotiators.

If the talks reach an impasse, writers could hold a strike authorization vote, but a walkout could take several more days, Rhoden said. Writers would also have to meet to ratify if a new contract is reached.

Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan has called on both sides to reach an agreement.

"Time is running out," he said earlier in the week. "Once again, I call on the producers and writers to work together in a spirit of compromise and save tens of thousands of Los Angeles jobs from the cutting room floor."

If a strike is called, the most immediate impact would affect talk shows like the "The Late Show with David Letterman" and "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," because these shows are produced on a daily basis.

Soap opera shows have completed new segments for a couple of weeks, but a prolonged strike would eventually affect them, according to Soap Opera Digest editor Lynn Leahey. During the writers strike of 1988, actors and managers stepped in to write scripts to keep the soaps on the air.

Prime-time programming has wrapped up for the season and most summer motion picture production has been completed.

The residual effect of a Hollywood strike could also imperil the vending industry from caterers to costume rentals, and even transportation suppliers. A recent study released by the city of Los Angeles estimated the possible long-term impact of a strike at $6.9 billion.

In spite of a media blackout imposed by the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, writers still haven't bridged a $100 million gap in salary demands over three years, according to sources close to negotiations. The studios claim those numbers would actually cost more than $200 million, according to sources.

Writers want greater compensation throughout the life of a show, including international syndication, and potential future airings on the Internet.

Hollywood writers, studios keep talking; no strike yet

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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