In a joint statement issued late Wednesday, the WGA and AMPTP said representatives from both sides would "continue to work separately into the evening."
There was no indication that the unusual evening session was a sign of progress in the talks on a new contract for Hollywood writers. Both sides are abiding by a news blackout surrounding the talks, which resumed on April 17, seven weeks after breaking down on March 1.
The WGA announced last week the formation of subcommittees to concentrate on such issues as animation writing, the arbitration process, character payments, diversity, three-person teams and low-budget TV programs. On its Web site, the guild said talks had focused on "the process for ongoing negotiations."
TV networks have been developing contingency plans for their 2001-2002 primetime schedules that call for a greater reliance on unscripted programming - including more news and so-called "reality-based" shows.
Movie studios have prepared for the possibility of a strike by rushing production on feature films this spring, leading to a substantial increase in work opportunities for writers, actors and everyone else involved in production.
The WGA contract expires on May 2. The contract between producers and the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists expires June 30. SAG and AFTRA officials expect to begin talks on a new contract no sooner than May 10.
Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan released a report last week warning that the city could lose as many as 81,900 jobs and $4.4 billion in lost income if there is "a prolonged Hollywood work stoppage."
The mayor said he thinks chances are good a strike can be avoided.
"I'm very optimistic from the words I've gotten from the heads of the unions and the negotiators representing the studios," said Riordan. "But still, I am pleading and calling upon producers, writers and actors to do all they can to avert these damaging strikes."
The Los Angeles Economic Development Commission estimated earlier this year that a strike by writers and actors - which would effectively shut down the entertainment industry - would cost the local economy approximately $2 billion per month.
The writers say they want an increase in residual payments for both TV and movie scripts, and they want to be paid for the use of their work in foreign markets, on cable TV and on the Internet. They also want higher payments for the sale of video cassettes and DVDs.
By some accounts, the monetary gulf between the guild and the AMPTP only amounts to about $100 million over three years - meaning they need to come together over the matter of $33 million per year in a contract that involves payments to writers of more than $1 billion per year.
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