On this second day of the New Era of Cautious Optimism ushered in by Friday's "informal" bargaining session between Writers Guild negotiators and studio CEOs—when WGA West president Patric Verrone's repeated striking of Disney's Bob Iger with a foam EncounterBat™ led to a critical, tearful breakthrough on the matter of streaming video payments— the LAT reports that the Guild's West Coast board has "reacted favorably to the outlines of a pending agreement" between the warring factions. Still, they refuse to uncork the Moët until everything they've fought for is actually in contract form and put to a vote that could—dare we say it? yes, we will dare—happen as early as this weekend:
Time is of the essence in getting the board to sign off on a deal with the upcoming television pilot season, and the Feb. 24 Academy Awards show, hanging in the balance.
While the negotiating committee, headed by John Bowman, is expected to recommend the pending contract, approval by the board is not necessarily a slam-dunk because it is composed of several hard-liners who may be tougher to win over.
Furthermore, any approval would come only after a formal accord is drawn up by lawyers on both sides.
Attorneys are putting in writing what guild negotiators and studio representatives verbally agreed to Friday when they bridged key differences over how much writers should earn for work distributed over the Internet.
To help thousands of still-fragile WGA members survive the emotionally harrowing week to come, United Hollywood urges writers to take a deep breath, head back to the picket lines, and hope for the best; after all, Friday's reported gains could easily be lawyered out of existence if the Guild allows itself to be distracted by premature dreams of the strike's end—or, in a far more distressing scenario, if AMPTP bogeyman Nick Counter, enraged by the speedy undoing of months of his hard work in negotiations-avoidance, somehow chews through his restraints in time to scuttle the seemingly imminent deal.