Spielberg bails on the Beijing Olympics.

Inside the big picture show.
Feb. 14 2008 12:45 PM

Spielberg Bails on the Beijing Olympics

Will Darfur spoil everything for China?

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Disney Chairman Bob Iger may have backed Fox's Peter Chernin in a game of hardball, but there's no way he wants to do without the Oscar telecast on ABC. The studios have achieved their goal: They've taken the strike as a chance to force majeure a bunch of folks out the door, and now it's back-to-work time.

Executives at the networks weren't clear yesterday on whether writers will start working when (if) the guild leadership approves a deal, without waiting for ratification by the membership. But a fast return seems to be part of the plan. And certainly there is a pent-up desire on the part of many writers to get those pencils back up again.

Of course, this labor stuff is a morass, and it may not be over even when it's over. The central question is obviously how good is the deal? Assuming it passes muster with the writers, will it be good enough to satisfy the Screen Actors Guild?  If not, what then? SAG and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists are fighting—again, still. AFTRA seems likely to go into negotiations on its own as soon as March. Will AFTRA be an easier tumble than SAG—or, in AFTRA-speak, "more reasonable" than those wild-eyed SAG radicals? If AFTRA makes a deal, will SAG be able to keep fighting?

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All this is too dreadful for us to contemplate at this time, so let's return to a seemingly simpler question: Once the writers get a deal sealed enough for work to resume, when do the shows come back? There's no one-size-fits-all answer, but network executives say four to six weeks for dramas and three to four weeks for sitcoms. So, there's hope yet for those with a jones for 30 Rock and The Office. (link)