What the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers called a "groundbreaking proposal" Thursday, the Writers Guild of America termed a "massive rollback." The descriptions of the AMPTP's latest offer to the WGA came at the end of a fourth day of secret talks and suggested that the two sides were as far apart as they were when they revived their talks. The studios maintained that under its under their proposal, which they titled a New Economic Partnership, writers would receive more than $130 million in additional compensation over three years. The WGA claimed that under the producers' proposal writers would receive a single fixed payment of less than $250 for a year's reuse of an hour-long program streamed on the Internet and nothing at all for streamed theatrical movies. (Figures released by Nielsen Research last week indicated that in October all of an average network's programs available via download or streaming together were viewed by fewer people than the number who watch a single low-rated half-hour TV show.) The guild's statement concluded: "We must fight on, returning to the lines on Monday in force to make it clear that we will not back down, that we will not accept a bad deal, and that we are all in this together." In its statement, the AMPTP noted that talks are scheduled to resume on Tuesday. "While we strongly preferred to continue discussions, we respect and understand the WGA's desire to review the proposals." The writers said that their own proposal would cost the studios $151 million over three years. "None of this computes," Jonathan Handel, a former WGA associate counsel told the Associated Press, noting that on the surface, the two sides seems to be only about $21 million apart.


In what is generally regarded as the one of the worst weekends of the year -- if not the worst -- for the domestic box office, only one film, the Weinstein Co.'s Awake, starring Hayden Christensen, will be opening wide -- and that film wasn't even shown to film critics. The film concerns a man who undergoes surgery but remains alert, although essentially paralyzed, throughout. Producer Joana Vicente told today's (Friday) Los Angeles Timesthat she expects the film "will do to surgery what Jaws did to swimming in the ocean." Analysts expected Disney's Enchanted, Sony's This Christmas,and Paramount's Beowulfto finish 1-2-3 as they did last weekend, with a possibility that Awakemight land in third, or even second, place.


Brad Pitt has narrated a BBC radio documentary about British '70s rock performer Nick Drake, who has developed an international cult following that includes Pitt himself. Drake who died in 1975 of a drug overdose at the age of 26, had recorded only three albums, none of which was a hit. The documentary is set to air on January 3, 2008. In a BBC Radio interview to promote the program, Pitt, who turns 44 on Dec. 18, acknowledged that his own pop stardom is likely to fade soon. "I figure I've got very few films left. Who knows how many I'll get to do now, so I want to do something I'm interested in. Otherwise, I don't want to bother. I think it's a younger person's game," he said. Pitt recently pulled out of the cast of Universal's State of Playbecause, he insisted, the script was not ready and, given the strike, there was no writer to polish it. (Universal has suggested it may sue the actor if it is unable to replace him quickly with a major star; it is in talks with Russell Crowe.)


During a week in which $99.00 HD DVD high-definition video players verily flew off Wal-Mart shelves, it was Blu-ray, not HD DVD, discs that consumers took home. According to figures released by Nielsen VideoScan and reported on the High-Def Disc News website, 72.6 percent of all high-definition discs purchased during the week were Blu-ray. (The website pointed out that 10 of the 12 new releases issued last week were in the Blu-ray format and that Wal-Mart's disc sales are not covered by VideoScan.) Meanwhile, Wal-Mart on Thursday began offering an HD DVD player dubbed Venturer at a regular price of $199.00.


Apple and At&T plan to introduce a high-speed, third generation ("3G") version of their iPhone device in 2008, "You'll have it next year," AT&T chief Randall Stephenson revealed Wednesday in an interview with Forbes magazine. He suggested that the iPhone will remain key to the success of AT&T's wireless unit. However, he did not indicate how much more the new iPhone version will cost than the existing one, which operates on the slower EDGE wireless system. He said that Apple CEO Steve Jobs "will dictate what the price of the phone is." Such high-speed capability would allow downloading of movies and television shows to the device from Apple's iTunes store, something that currently is limited only to audio.