Liman Forms New Media Co., Negotiates Deal With WGA

Doug Liman, the Hollywood luminary known for films in the "Bourne" series, along with TV shows such as "The OC" and the coming "Knight Rider" remake, has formed a company looking to bring TV-type productions to new media distribution platforms. It's also looking to possibly circumvent the studios that are negotiating with striking writers.

Called Jackson Bites, the company has cut a deal with the writers' guild (WGA), allowing it to move forward during the continuing strike and hire WGA writers.

Co-owned by Liman, who will not direct or produce content for the company, Jackson Bites will consider using a range of distribution platforms, from the Internet to handheld devices. It may also cut deals with satellite and cable operators.

During the strike, studios and writers have battled over how to share in revenues from new-media outlets. Studios have argued they are making little, if any, profits from them. Writers believe profits either exist or are coming soon, and want a greater share.

"If the last strike is best remembered for the studios attempting to show they could create programming without writers, this could be the strike where the writers show they can do it without the studios," Liman said.

"We are at a moment of opportunity in television where we have gone from three networks to six, and from a handful of channels to a thousand and YouTube. In that environment, what matters is compelling programming--and compelling programming starts with the writer," he says. "Jackson Bites will afford writers the opportunity to create content that will be seen and enjoyed by audiences with or without the involvement of the television networks."

The head of the WGA East, Michael Winship, said the agreement between the guild and Jackson Bites "reflects precisely what we have held from the start: For writers, the Internet and new media are the future."

The Jackson Bites-WGA deal allowing writers on strike to work mirrors similar ones between the guild and the Weinstein Company, United Artists and David Letterman's production company.

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