However, movie production on finished scripts has continued throughout the strike and can be sped up to compensate for any scheduling holes. Just as in the last lengthy writers' strike, which lasted five months in 1988, moviegoers won't face empty multiplexes. The pipeline has enough in reserve to keep the flow steady.
Q: Will the Oscars proceed as planned?
A: Yes, the ceremony Feb. 24 will be largely unaffected, and Jon Stewart remains as host. At last week's nominees luncheon, producer Gil Cates -- then uncertain about the strike's outcome -- talked of the difficulty of simultaneously planning two shows, one with writers and a substantial celebrity turnout, and the other without. "We're very hopeful that things will be worked out soon, and it does look good, but regardless I look forward to all of us being together on Oscar night."
But the ceremony is likely to be stripped down in one respect: With less time for planning, you won't see the kind of elaborate filmed set pieces that have dotted previous Oscars.
Just as they shied away from late-night TV, major stars unwilling to present or collect awards would have spelled disaster, much like the glorified list-reading of this year's decimated Golden Globes. With no picket line to cross, the stars will feel free to attend in their most glamorous attire.
Q: Did the writers get what they wanted?
A: The walkout did yield some gains, and more than the Directors Guild of America got when they completed early negotiations for their own new contract, which expires June 30.
The central issue was compensation for use of their work in new media, such as when TV episodes are streamed on websites. (Writers want a chunk of revenue from ads sold.)
Under a three-year deal, after a "promotional" window of 17 to 24 days, writers get a flat fee for the first two years, and -- in a concession by studios -- a 2% cut in the third year, allowing them to profit further if online growth is as robust as some expect.
"I'm thrilled," says Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry, a member of the WGA negotiating committee. "I think we made the best deal we could make, and I am ready to go back to work. Just the fact that we got jurisdiction over the Internet meant everything, and we got more than that."
Others were more tempered. "Any kind of deal like this leaves both sides a little unhappy," says Lost executive producer Carlton Cuse. "But we were all firmly convinced this was the best we could do," particularly because the strike also left actors, crewmembers and much of Hollywood out of work. "The yield for staying on strike for many months would not justify the pain and financial hardship."
Contributing: Bill Keveney and Anthony Breznican.