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Strike over, Hollywood writers head back to work

  • Story Highlights
  • More than 92 percent of writers vote to end 100-day walkout and return to work
  • Writers Guild of America strike began November 5
  • Issues in walkout included handling of writers' work for new media such as Internet
  • Report: February 24 Oscar show will go on as usual
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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Striking Hollywood writers will be back at their keyboards Wednesday after voting overwhelmingly to end a 100-day walkout that essentially shut down the entertainment industry.

Writers Guild of America member Steven Binder shows his approval as he votes Tuesday in Beverly Hills, California.

More than 92 percent of the Writers Guild of America members who cast ballots Tuesday in Los Angeles and New York voted to end their work stoppage over residuals for writing in the digital age, including new media and the Internet. The new deal is for three years.

"The strike is over. Our membership has voted, and writers can go back to work," said Patric Verrone, president of the WGA's West chapter.

Michael Winship, president of WGA's East guild, said, "The success of this strike is a significant achievement not only for ourselves but the entire creative community, now and in the future."

WGA members walked off the job November 5 after talks broke down over how writers are paid for the use of their material on the Internet and DVDs, among other issues.

"It is not all that we hoped for, and it is not all we deserve," Verrone said when a tentative deal was announced Saturday.

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But he added, "This is the best deal this guild has bargained for in 30 years."

Leslie Moonves, chief executive officer of CBS Corp., told The Associated Press, "At the end of the day, everybody won.

"It was a fair deal and one that the companies can live with, and it recognizes the large contribution that writers have made to the industry."

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents production companies and media conglomerates, has had no comment on the agreement.

The vote meant that the Academy Awards ceremony on February 24 will be the usual scripted gala, the AP reported.

"I am ecstatic that the 80th Academy Awards presentation can now proceed full steam ahead," without "hesitation or discomfort" for the nominees, Sid Ganis, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which stages the Oscars, told the AP.

As long as the strike continued, the traditional Oscars spectacular was in doubt since many Hollywood stars would not cross WGA picket lines.

It's unclear how soon new episodes of scripted programs will start appearing, because production won't begin until scripts are completed, the AP reported.

It will take at least four weeks for producers to get the first post-strike episodes of comedies back on the air; dramas will take six to eight weeks, the AP said.

Verrone said the WGA achieved two of three goals through negotiations with the studios. Video Watch Verrone explain what he thinks the strike accomplished »

The first goal relates to writers' "jurisdiction" in new media, Verrone said, meaning that any content written by guild members specifically for new media, such as the Internet or cell phones, will be covered by their contract.

The second goal relates to reuse of content in new media, Verrone said.

The agreement bases payment for reuses on a distributor's gross formula for residuals, "so that when they get paid, we get paid," he said.

It is the "first time in our history that a new delivery system pays on a residual formula superior to the prior existing system," Verrone said.


The third goal, which Verrone said the guild did not achieve, was to shore up writers' shares of the revenue from animation and reality television.

"Giving up animation and reality was a heartbreaking thing for me personally," he said. "But it was more important that we make a deal that benefited the membership, the town as a whole, that got people back to work and that solved the biggest problems in new media." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2008 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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