Striking Hollywood writers, studios to resume talks

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LOS ANGELES, Nov 17 (Reuters) Striking Hollywood screenwriters and the major film and TV studios agreed to resume formal contract negotiations on November 26 in what would be their first talks since the walkout began 11 days ago.

The announcement the two sides planned to return to the bargaining table came in identical brief statements issued yesterday by the Writers Guild of America and the industry's negotiating arm, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

No further details were released.

While representatives for the studios previously indicated they expected the writers to put their strike on hold before contract talks could resume, there was no mention by either side that the work stoppage was being suspended.

The entertainment trade paper Daily Variety reported on its Web site that the WGA remained on strike.

The Writers Guild went on strike against major film and TV studios on November 5 after negotiations on a new contract for its 12,000 members reached an impasse in a dispute over higher fees the union is seeking from Internet revenues.

The strike immediately threw the television industry into disarray, as work on several late-night talk shows like ''The Tonight Show with Jay Leno'' and ''Late Show with David Letterman'' ground to a halt. Production has also been shut down on numerous prime-time comedies and dramas since then.

In the first big-screen casualty of the strike, Columbia Pictures said earlier on Friday it had postponed production on ''Angels&Demons,'' a prequel to its box-office hit ''The Da Vinci Code'' starring Tom Hanks.

California Gov Arnold Schwarzenegger intervened this week to try to break the stalemate, as did Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who is worried about the economic impact on his city.

''I have been in constant communication with the parties and have been urging both sides to resume face-to-face negotiations,'' Villaraigosa said. ''I applaud their decision to get back to the table. The film and television industry is a pillar of our economy.'' REUTERS SYU HT1155

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