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Striking Scriptwriters Grant Two Exceptions

April 15, 1988

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Striking TV and film scriptwriters have agreed to go back to work under interim contracts at only two of the several independent producers that asked for relief from the walkout, the union said Thursday.

East Coast members of the striking Writers Guild of America met in New York City on Thursday to consider the request for relief and take an informal vote; West Coast members met Wednesday. Vote totals were not released.

WGA leaders had recommended against separate contracts because ″it could lead to divisiveness and destruction of morale among members,″ WGA spokeswoman Cheryl Rhoden said in a statement announcing the outcome of the vote.

However, Rhoden said, the WGA membership approved two exceptions: The ″New Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour″ and Ivan Reitman Productions, which has produced such film hits as ″Animal House″ and ″Ghostbusters.″

The exceptions were granted because of unspecified legal considerations and because negotiations with the two producers ″were more advanced,″ Rhoden said.

It was not known how many scriptwriters would be affected by the decision to enter into separate contracts with the two production companies.

Rhoden could not immediately be reached for comment.

An unspecified number of independent producers had asked the union for separate agreements that would allow them to resume work.

Some 9,000 union writers went on strike March 7 over creative control and residuals from reruns and foreign distribution. The walkout shortened the season for many prime-time shows and stalled the start of some series.

There have been no formal negotiations since March 10.

Herb Steinberg, a spokesman for TV and film producers, said the producers had no comment on the guild’s decision not to seek side deals with independent producers other than the two exceptions.

He held out little hope for Monday’s negotiating session. ″There has been no change in our position,″ Steinberg said. ″Unless this new meeting carries a lantern with it, we see no light at the end of the tunnel.″

On Thursday, about 300 union supporters rallied outside the Gulf & Western building, where Paramount has offices. Among those appearing were writer and director John Sayles and writers Ernest Kinoy and Horton Foote.

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