Hollywood writers and producers to renew talks

The only real achievement of previous talks between movie and TV writers and producers was a promise to meet again.

The writers and Hollywood studios were set to resume talks Tuesday, said a person familiar with the contract negotiations who was not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity.

On Monday, neither the writers union nor the group representing studios would comment on the negotiations or even reveal their location.

Picketing resumed in Los Angeles and New York and writers kept up an aggressive Internet-based virtual picket line that capitalizes on the very medium at issue in the contentious negotiations.

The Writers Guild of America went on strike Nov. 5 over payment for work aired on the Web. Writers want more money when TV shows and films are sold on Internet sites such as Apple Inc.'s iTunes.

Studios, networks and producers, represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, say it is too early to know which business model will succeed on the Web. They want flexibility to experiment without having to be locked into payment formulas.

The last talks broke off Nov. 4. At that negotiating session, writers had dropped a demand to increase residual payments from DVDs and producers had agreed in principle to pay writers when advertising-supported episodes were streamed over the Web.

As the strike enters its fourth week, writers have stepped up their use of blogs, short videos, MySpace pages and other Web-based methods aimed at keeping their ranks together and reaching a wider audience, including TV viewers who will soon have to settle for reruns of their favorite prime time shows.

The guild's West and East coast branches have posted strike schedules, press releases and other information on its official Web sites.

But soon after the strike started, other sites sprang up, including one maintained by strike captains and another hosted by writers for "Late Show with David Letterman."

Writers also began using social networking sites, including MySpace and Facebook, to communicate among themselves. The irony of using a site like MySpace, which is owned by media conglomerate News Corp., a company being struck by writers, does not go unnoticed.

"It can't be fun for Rupert Murdoch for me to be doing this in his back yard right now," said Kristen Stavola, a screenwriter behind the MySpace site "Hollywood Interrupted."

One of the most popular efforts has been the video "The Office is Closed," which was shot on the picket lines by Peter Rader. The video features the show's writer-producer Greg Daniels and cast members belittling a TV network claim that reuse of episodes on the Web is merely "promotional."

That video, posted on YouTube, has been viewed more than 520,000 times.

"We realized we had the opportunity to take the Internet and use it against the companies which are trying to dominate the Internet," Rader said.

In New York City, meanwhile, negotiations between striking Broadway stagehands and theater ended early Tuesday, with no deal reached.

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Author`s name Angela Antonova