WGA Cuts Side Deal With United Artists

Posted on January 5, 2008

In a fairly shocking turn of events, the WGA has cut a side deal with United Artists which will allow the restarted studio to resume production on movies and hire guild writers. Nikki Finke reports that Tom Cruise's producing partner, Paula Wagner hammered out the deal in secret with the WGA.
I'm told that, like Letterman's company, UA has accepted the very same proposals that the WGA presented to the media conglomerates when the Alliance Of Motion Picture & Television Producers walked out of contract negotiations back on December 7th. "It's the same kind of agreement that the guild made with [David Letterman's] Worldwide Pants. But 'interim agreement' is not the right word," a WGA insider explained to me. "At the end of the day, once an overall agreement is done between the WGA and AMPTP, if the terms and conditions of that agreement are more favorable to UA, they will be able to enjoy that. This essentially means that UA has the ability to be in business with the WGA."

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Guild sources said it definitely helped during negotiations that Cruise is a longtime SAG member and Wagner also started out as an actress before she became an agent then producer and then UA studio mogul. "They said, 'All we want to do is make movies. And we know that you can't do that without the artists, especially the ones that create the stories. And those are the writers.' "

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I've just been told that the Hollywood/Big Media CEOs who belong to the AMPTP are furious at MGM chairman Harry Sloan for "allowing" this WGA-United Artists deal to go through.
This is another victory for the WGA. It's time for the other studios come back to the table and restart talks.

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