WGA Strikers

2792/Most Wanted/ZUMAPress.com

Grrr, argh...

So, as reported right here in this column, the widespread rumor reverberating through Hollywood over the weekend was that the WGA-AMPTP deal was "done," and all that was left before the strike was officially over was to dot the i's and cross the t's.

Giddy over this prospect, we fanned out to interrogate some folks on the writers' side about what this means for the rest of the TV season.

Emails came back as a mixture of "Say wha?" and "Says who?" Huh. Then came the letter from WGA president Patric Verrone to members, which said, essentially, that it ain't over till it's over. "We are still in talks and do not yet have a contract," Verrone wrote. "Picketing will resume on Monday." Damn.

After interviewing multiple sources close to the negotiations yesterday and today, it has become clear there are a couple of remaining issues on the table.

Among them, according to sources, is an established length of proposed "promotional clips" that the studios and networks could use free of charge under the new agreement. (Is a "clip" 20 seconds? Two minutes? All 22 minutes of an episode of 30 Rock?) That length was not determined in the DGA deal.

So, why the widespread word on Saturday that the deal was done? According to Nikki Finke's blog at deadlinehollywooddaily.com, Peter Chernin was telling people at the Super Bowl yesterday that "the strike was over," which is exactly what everyone else in the industry was hearing from high-placed sources. Hence, the story was picked up by nearly every media outlet over the weekend, including the The New York Times and Associated Press.

One longtime screenwriter close to the negotiations lobs this allegation: "We think [the AMPTP] sent out the message that the strike is over to try and weaken our resolve. Why else would anyone try to announce anything before it is actually over?"

The AMPTP also went on record today to deny rumors of a done deal, though an AMPTP source also told time.com to "stay tuned."

Meanwhile, a nonpartisan, looky-loo commuter just texted in to tell us: "Just drove past Paramount [Studios], and the [WGA] picketers are out in full force. They are stronger than I've seen in many weeks."

Where do things stand now? Well, the writers have the very big stick of an Oscar picket line. The producers wield the weighty bat of "Work stoppages hurt the little guy most."

Will this standoff have a swift resolution, or could the cold war between the two sides drag on—or worse, get downright hot? Give us your thoughts in the Comments section below.

And say a little prayer for our good friend Mr. Television while you're at it.

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