Liman bites on WGA deal

Helmer unveils new-media firm

The WGA said Thursday that film and TV director- producer Doug Liman is launching a new-media company and has inked an interim work agreement with the guild.

Liman's Jackson Bites aims to create "television-style programming for alternative distribution." Liman will have unspecified business partners in the venture.

The guild's interim agreement will mean that WGA writers can work on Jackson Bites projects.

"If the last strike is best remembered for the studios attempting to show they could create programming without writers, this could be the strike where the writers show they can do it without the studios," Liman said. "We are at a moment of opportunity in television where we have gone from three networks to six and from a handful of channels to a thousand and YouTube.

"In that environment, what matters is compelling programming — and compelling programming starts with the writer," he added. "Jackson Bites will afford writers the opportunity to create content that will be seen and enjoyed by audiences with or without the involvement of the television networks."

Liman told The Hollywood Reporter that his interim agreement theoretically could be extended to hiring WGA writers for his film and TV projects. The director-producer said he has no intent of doing so, but he noted shows developed for new media could be picked up by traditional television networks.

"I have an overall deal with Universal, and I'm honoring that deal," Liman stressed. "I don't want this to be seen as an F-you to the studios. We're going to provide interesting and provocative content, and ultimately that's in the interests of everybody."