United Artists, WGA Interim Deal Confirmed

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Variety has confirmed that the Writers Guild of America and United Artists have agreed to sign an interim deal, allowing striking feature writers to begin work for the studio — and opening the door for other indies such as The Weinstein Company and Lionsgate to follow suit.

The trade says the official announcement of the WGA-UA deal is expected Monday. The deal won’t include MGM, the majority owner of UA, and likely will mirror terms in the interim pact the WGA signed last week with David Letterman’s Worldwide Pants.

For UA toppers Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner, it’s a major declaration of independence from MGM and underlines that the duo — who have a 35% stake in UA — have the final say in operations. The deal affords the revived studio an opportunity to move forward on projects after initially stumbling out of the gate with Lions for Lambs.

UA raised $500 million last summer from Merrill Lynch for financing of 15-18 films over the next five years. UA’s next film, WWII drama Valkyrie, has completed production and is set for release next fall.

Variety added that UA’s My Lai drama Pinkville, to be toplined by Bruce Willis and directed by Oliver Stone, won’t be revived. That project hit a roadblock due to script problems after the strike started and would be difficult to restart as Willis has moved on to another project.

Though MGM had no comment about the deal, MGM topper Harry Sloan has reportedly opposed the UA interim deal and added that it was highly unlikely that MGM would break ranks from the conglomerates and sign its agreement before the strike ends.

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