DAVID BIANCULLI

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Fasten Your Seat Belts: Strike Talks Break Off Again, And Sound Really Broken
December 8, 2007  | By David Bianculli
 
Press releases from the networks started coming in about 10 p.m. ET last night, late enough to minimize coverage on a Friday night in December. But there was news, and the news was bad: The studios and networks had walked away from the negotiating table, leaving them and the striking Writers Guild of America members both moaning about intractable positions and irreconcilable differences.

That the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers had such a hefty statement ready so quickly suggests this was the group's A plan all along. Wait until the start of the weekend, throw down the gauntlet and leave. They've been losing the public-relations battle, so now they're declaring all-out war.

"Instead of negotiating," the AMPTP statement read, "the WGA organizers have made unreasonable demands that are roadblocks to real progress."

"We reject the idea of an ultimatum," a WGA release last night stated just as defiantly.

The lines, at this point, are drawn in the sand, and may as well be drawn in cement on Hollywood Boulevard. Unless this is some bellicose form of last-minute posturing, and one side or the other caves suddenly before the holidays, this TV season is about to become a very flimsy shadow of its former self.

If the strike isn't settled by Friday, you can pretty much say goodbye to the January press tour by the Television Critics Association, which means less coverage and promotion for midseason shows. And if late-night talk shows stay in reruns, other venues for promotion will be just as endangered.
When the two sides of the strike aren't in the same room, much less at the same table, the only end in sight is an end to the supply line of quality scripted television. The fail-safe point for salvaging this TV season, it's sad to say, is right around the corner.

And it's looking, more and more, like a one-way, dead-end street.

 
 
 
 
 
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