Writers drop jurisdiction demands for reality, toons

Shift comes during informal talks

WGA demands for reality TV and animation jurisdiction are officially off the table.

The WGA said so Tuesday in confirming its informal talks with studio chiefs, aimed at getting stalled contract negotiations back on track (HR 1/21). Scribes may or may not end up accepting contract terms similar to the DGA's, but the move follows the directors' lead by first meeting informally with studio executives under the cover of a press blackout.

"We have responded favorably to the invitation from the AMPTP to enter into informal talks that will help establish a reasonable basis for returning to negotiations," the WGA said. "During this period, we have agreed to a complete news blackout. We are grateful for this opportunity to engage in meaningful discussion with industry leaders that we hope will lead to a contract. We ask that all members exercise restraint in their public statements during this critical period.

"In order to make absolutely clear our commitment to bringing a speedy conclusion to negotiations, we have decided to withdraw our proposals on reality and animation," the guild said. "Our organizing efforts to achieve guild representation in these genres for writers will continue. You will hear more about this in the next two weeks."

A guild spokesman declined to elaborate on the organizing reference.

The WGA hasn't met formally with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers since Dec. 7, when the guild refused to cede to an AMPTP ultimatum to drop demands for reality TV and animation jurisdiction.

It was unclear if the WGA has gotten studio negotiators to withdraw a additional ultimatum involving guild demands for the right to sympathy strikes and guaranteed arbitration on residuals involving vertically integrated companies.

"The (WGA) and (AMPTP) will begin informal discussions to determine if there is a basis for both parties to return to formal negotiations," the AMPTP said. "Both the AMPTP and the WGA have agreed to make no public comments about the informal discussions until those discussions have concluded."