Tuned In

Strike Watch: Beautiful Music

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I almost don’t want to jinx it by writing about it, but there are a couple signs this morning that there really could be progress toward ending the strike. First, the Writers’ Guild announced that it would not picket the Grammy Awards, a goodwill gesture that the already ratings-troubled awards show sorely needed.

At the same time, the guild announced that it was dropping its demand to represent reality and animation writers. It was theoretically a reasonable demand–writers is writers–but clearly an unattainable one (fat chance that any company with a choice would agree, in the middle of a strike, to grant a union far more leverage for its next strike). And the guild had not-so-subtly indicated all along that this was, principles aside, a bargaining chip. For the WGA to give up the demand, after the directors have reached a deal with the studios and informal talks have restarted, is a hopeful sign that either horse-trading has begun or the guild is at least confident enough of progress to offer up the first horse.

Of course, the studios have, in the past, jerked the writers around after the WGA offered concessions on DVD payments, and there’s no guarantee the talks won’t get derailed again. And the Oscars on Feb. 24 still loom out there as the writers’ biggest bit of leverage. But nearly three months into the strike, it’s just a relief to see someone out there trying to cut deals other than Howie Mandel.