LOS ANGELES - Television and movie screenwriters said Thursday they would go on strike for the first time in nearly 20 years in a dispute over royalties.
Four writers told The Associated Press that Writers Guild of America President Patric Verrone made the announcement in a closed-door session, drawing loud cheers from the crowd.
“There was a unified feeling in the room. I don’t think anyone wants the strike, but people are behind the negotiation committee,” said Dave Garrett, screenwriter for the movie “Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo.”
Writers said the guild board would meet today to formally call a strike and decide when it would start. They said guild members would be told this afternoon.
Nick Counter, president of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, said in a statement the alliance was not surprised by the action.
“We are ready to meet and are prepared to close this contract this weekend,” he said.
Officials had called a meeting of the union’s 12,000 members for Thursday night.
Guild members recently authorized their negotiators to call the first strike since 1988, if necessary.
Writers said the line of questioning inside the meeting wasn’t whether the group was going to strike, but how it would be carried out. Many writers said that beyond royalties, respect was at stake. They said they had never commanded the same clout in the entertainment industry as actors and directors.
“I don’t think it’s something we can negotiate for,” said Paul Guay, who co-wrote the movies “Liar, Liar” and “Heartbreakers.” “What we can negotiate for is money. How we assess respect and worth in this town is money.”
The first casualty of the strike will likely be late-night talk shows, which are dependent on current events to fuel monologues.