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Weinstein Co. Expects Deal With Writers

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LYNN ELBER | January 10, 2008 11:30 PM EST | AP

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LOS ANGELES — The Weinstein Co., one of Hollywood's largest independent filmmakers, said Thursday it expects to reach a deal with striking Hollywood writers that would allow the company to resume production.

The company was anticipating that an interim agreement with the Writers Guild of America would be signed by Thursday or Friday, company spokesman Matthew Frankel said.

The writers guild did not immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers also did not immediately respond for a request for comment.

The deal with Weinstein would be the second reached with big-screen producers. United Artists made an agreement with the guild Monday to resume production.

The union has also agreed to a deal with Worldwide Pants, the company that makes David Letterman's late-night TV show.

Terms of the Weinstein deal were not released. But a person familiar with the agreement, speaking on condition of anonymity because it had yet to be completed, said it was similar to the interim deal reached by Worldwide Pants.

A central demand has been compensation for projects distributed on the Internet. Contract talks broke off on Dec. 7.

The studio alliance has downplayed the significance of the United Artists agreement and said "one-off deals" would not lead to a permanent solution of the labor dispute.

Brothers Harvey and Bob Weinstein founded Miramax, which became part of the independent film movement in the 1990s and has produced a number of high-grossing movies. The Walt Disney Co. bought Miramax in the early 1990s, but the Weinstein brothers continued to run the studio until 2005, when they left to form the Weinstein Co.

The Weinstein name has been attached to award-winning films including "The English Patient," "Good Will Hunting" and "Chicago."

While the initial catalyst for the deal was Harvey and Bob Weinstein's relationships with writers, it was their concern over the strike's growing impact, job losses and the negotiations stalemate that pushed them to act, according to the person familiar with the deal.

The Weinsteins also were disturbed by the effect the strike that began Nov. 5 was having on the awards season, typically a time of celebration for the industry _ and, for the Weinstein Co., an important promotional tool.

Under threat of union picketing and a boycott by nominated actors, Sunday's Golden Globes switched from a live ceremony filled with stars to a news conference at which winners simply will be announced.