Hollywood’s writers and producers return this week for a three-day negotiating session. Who’s got the upper hand? Depends on who’s handicapping the fight: Clever videos have helped the writers gin up popular support, but the late night hosts–Jay Leno, David Letterman and Conan O’Brien–are expected to return en masse next week, which will undercut the scribes significantly.
If this next round fails, many predict the writers to be out for a long time. As former Warner Bros. chief Bob Daly told the WSJ, “If they don’t make it now, I say, ‘Happy New Year,’ see you next year.”
Meanwhile, former WGA attorney and Huffpo blogger Jonathan Handel provides more context for the labour strife, pointing out that Hollywood isn’t just concerned about the writers, but with the other unions it will have to deal with down the line. If the writers and the studios split the difference on DVD and new media residuals, and Hollywood uses that deal as a template for deals with the actors (SAG), directors (DGA) and stage hands (IATSE), the bill will add up. Handel says the cost of a new four-union deal would cost the studios an additional $3 billion over the next three years, or about $60 million per major studio per year.