HOLLYWOOD -- Television and motion picture writers went on strike today after voting nearly 2-to-1 to hand the entertainment industry its third major strike in the past year. Picketing was not scheduled until Monday.
A spokeswoman for the Writers Guild of America, Shannon Boyd, said the 20th Century Fox Studios would be picketed Monday for two hours and pickets would appear during the next two weeks at various studios and networks.
The writers voted 827 to 445 to go on stirke against the television and motion picture producers after a meeting with the WGAs board of directors.
Talks between the writers and the producers broke down Friday following several months of negotiations.
Billy Hunt, chairman of the producers negotiating committee, said the talks broke down over an inability to reach agreement over payment for programs intended primarily for the lucrative pay television, video disc and cassette markets.
Disagreement over the same issues resulted in long strikes last year by actors and studio musicians.
The WGA had set a strike deadline for midnight Friday after bargaining for more than a month beyond the expiration of its old contract.
Chief union negotiator Garry Ellingsworth announced Friday the WGA had filed a complaint to the National Labor Relations Board, charging the producers were not bargaining in good faith.
'These companies insist that we accept the contract they have negotiated with another union and will not deviate from that agreement,' he said. 'That is bad faith bargaining in its purest form.'
A writer's strike would seriously curtail production of both movies and TV shows although one studio spokesman said production of features films and TV series could continue unhampered for several months.
Some studios and TV producers have stockpiled scripts in anticipation of a strike.
A WGA strike could dovetail with a possible Directors Guild of America strike scheduled for July 1 in the event the DGA does not win its demands for cable, disc and cassette payments in its negotiations with producers.
The directors begin negotiations with producers next Wednesday. Their current contract expires June 30. A strike by directors would effectively shut down all movie and TV production.
'We entering negotiations optimistically,' said George Schaefer, DGA president, 'based on the fact that we have always managed to come to terms with the producing companies without having to strike. We may run into a hopeless block but we hope not.'
Screen Actors Guild effectively closed down Hollywood production for 10 weeks in a contract dispute over the same issue of payment for the home video market.