Writers, studios need to be flexible in talks
Production of "Lost" has been suspended due to the screenwriters strike.
Actors and producers of "Lost" continued to work after the Writers Guild of America went on strike three weeks ago, but ABC now has suspended production halfway through its fourth season. Both sides should be flexible in reaching an accord when they resume negotiations tomorrow.
Tomorrow's talks will be the first since the strike began so can be regarded as a sign of hope. Uncertainties about the future of the digital world should cause negotiators to accept temporary compromises in the three-year term of the contract under consideration.
The effect of "Lost" joining two dozen other shows that have halted production will be serious, especially for Hawaii. A single episode of a TV drama costs about $3 million to produce, employs 300 people and takes eight days to shoot, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The main issue is how much screenwriters should share in revenue from DVD sales. The Guild wants it doubled from 4 cents to 8 cents per DVD sold. The studios want to roll back the system, as sales have sagged and online piracy bodes ill for the future. The two sides reportedly are far apart on that and other issues.
The Guild's 22-week strike in 1988 resulted in $500 million in costs, about $3 million a day. The costs of the current strike are more severe because studios and networks have become part of huge media corporations.
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