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Writers strike weakens Queens film industry – QNS.com

Writers strike weakens Queens film industry

By Nathan Duke

A number of city-based television shows are filmed in western Queens at Silvercup Studios in Long Island City and Kaufman Astoria Studios in Astoria. But many of those shows are currently on hiatus after the Writers Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents more than 300 networks, studios and conglomerates, failed to reach a contract agreement in early December. The union is trying to secure a minimum basic agreement, demanding that producers give writers 2.5 percent of all revenue earned through new media sales, including movies and television shows that can be viewed on the Internet or downloaded onto portable media players like iPods and cell phones.Sherry Goldman, a spokeswoman for the guild, said the strike has brought television production, with the exception of reality shows, to a halt.”Pretty much all scripted television has shut down in this country,” she said. “There's almost no scripts left and a number of movies have been shut down. The strike is in its tenth week, but conglomerates walked away from the table and have not come back. We hope that sooner or later they will come back to negotiate with us.”Kaufman Astoria Studios could not be reached for comment. But a spokesman for Silvercup said several shows that shoot at the studio, including “Cashmere Mafia,” “Gossip Girl” and “30 Rock,” were currently on hold.A spokeswoman for the city's Office of Film said that seven films are currently production in the five boroughs, including “Doubt,” an adaptation of the Tony-winning play, and “The Reader,” which stars Ralph Fiennes and is directed by Stephen Daldry (“The Hours”). “Lipstick Jungle” is currently the only scripted TV series in production, she said.In recent weeks, the office has issued about one-third of the amount of permits for city film and television productions that it issued during the first week of the strike, she said.The guild took its picket line to Silvercup in mid-November where it was joined by members of the Screen Actors Guild, elected officials, Teamsters and celebrities. But Goldman said the guild is now focusing more on Manhattan media companies.”It's not like we'd be stopping production at Silvercup,” she said. “There's not much production to stop.”Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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