Sunday, February 10, 2008

Chris Mundy talks about Criminal Minds post strike

The end of the U.S. screenwriters strike could see leading TV series return to the networks within weeks, industry sources said Sunday.

With a preparation time of four weeks for comedies and up to eight weeks for a top-notch drama, some series could be back on the air in March, assuming the striking screenwriters approve the contract their union negotiated.

If that happens — and the union has called a vote Tuesday — viewers will get between four to seven new episodes of leading shows before the summer reruns start.

"It will be all hands on deck for the writing staff," Chris Mundy, co-executive producer of the CBS drama Criminal Minds, told the Associated Press on Sunday.

He'd like to broadcast about seven episodes by the end of May. "It's a real balancing act," Mundy said, "to get up and running as fast as possible, but not let the quality slip."

If the strike ends, the Oscars may well go ahead. The future of the Feb. 24 broadcast is in doubt as long as the strike continues.
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Writing the material for presenters and hosts at the gala cannot start until the strike actually ends, Academy spokeswoman Leslie Unger said.

Vote Tuesday

On Sunday, leaders of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) called for a vote on Tuesday to decide whether to continue the strike while the members decide whether to approve or reject the tentative settlement reached Saturday.

The western and eastern heads of the guild have already encouraged the members to back the settlement. But in an e-mail Sunday, western president Patric Verrone said a vote on the contract could take several weeks.

"A yes vote means you are voting to end the strike immediately; a no vote means you are voting to continue the strike during the ratification process," Verrone said.

The leaders urged their members Saturday to end the three-month walkout and support a deal reached with film and television studios.

"It is not what we hoped for and not all that we deserve," Verrone said. But he and eastern leader Michael Winship warned in an e-mail that "continuing the strike now will not bring sufficient gains to outweigh the potential risks … the time has come to accept this contract and settle the strike."

The strike began Nov. 5 and has forced the networks to repeat old shows or fill gaps with reality TV. The two arms of the guild, based in Los Angeles and New York, represent about 10,500 writers.

The main issue in the strike was residual payments to writers for TV shows and movies downloaded or delivered over the internet.