WGA grants a Lerner's permit

Nu Image, two other companies cut interim deals

The WGA has turned Avi Lerner's frown upside down.

On Tuesday, the Nu Image/ Millennium co-topper complained bitterly that the guild was letting his request for an interim work agreement collect dust, perhaps as a payback for his criticism of the writers strike (HR 1/30). The next day, the outspoken producer got word that the WGA would be granting him just such a pact, meaning that Lerner could get back into development with a slew of projects and reshoot some scenes for the Robert De Niro-Al Pacino starrer "Righteous Kill."

Company executives signed off on the deal Thursday.

"The good news is that we have our interim agreement," Lerner said.

Also on Thursday, the WGA said that it has reached interim work agreements with indies Intermedia and the Film Department.

"In light of this agreement, we will shortly be announcing our updated film and television slate," Intermedia president Linda Benjamin said.

News of the three pacts comes a day after confirmation of an interim work agreement with Overture Films and follows the signing of similar interim deals with indies United Artists, the Weinstein Co., Lionsgate and others.

The WGA remains at a negotiations impasse with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers and has been granting indies interim work agreements as a means of pressuring the AMPTP back to the table. The AMPTP board is dominated by labor relations execs from the major studios and broadcast networks.

Meanwhile, informal discussions continue between guild reps and media company CEOs in an effort to find a way back to the bargaining table. There was a collective sense among industry figures Thursday that the informal discussions might continue into next week, with an announcement of formal negotiations possible by midweek.