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Broadway strike talks end without agreement

The last round of talks between Broadway stagehands and theater producers ended without a deal and the dispute that has darkened many of New York's theaters for more than two weeks is still unresolved.

"There is no deal," said Bruce Cohen, a spokesman for Local 1, the stagehands' union, at about 7:30 a.m. "There are no talks scheduled."

He said it was "not a breakdown" in negotiations.

A spokeswoman for the League of American Theatres and Producers could not immediately confirm that talks had ended Tuesday.

The two sides returned to the bargaining table Monday, 12 hours after ending a marathon negotiating session aimed at settling a labor dispute that has kept most of Broadway dark for more than two weeks.

A long Sunday meeting between Local 1 and the League of American Theatres and Producers spilled into the early morning hours of Monday. Both sides resumed their talks Monday evening and continued until past dawn, fueled by salad and bottled water deliveries.

Renewed efforts to end the work stoppage came at the end of the Thanksgiving holiday week, usually one of the best times of the year for Broadway. Not so this year, with most of Broadway, including such big hits as "Wicked," "Jersey Boys," "The Lion King," "Mamma Mia!" and "The Phantom of the Opera," shut down since the stagehands walked out Nov. 10.

Both Local 1 and the league have been under pressure to find a solution to the conflict as box-office losses climb and other unions that work on Broadway, such as Actors' Equity Association, began to feel the effects of no paychecks.

Theater-related businesses have been hurt, too. City Comptroller William Thompson has estimated the economic impact of the strike at $2 million a day, based on survey data, including theatergoers total spending on tickets, dining, shopping and other activities.

The complicated contract dispute has focused on how many stagehands are required to open a Broadway show and keep it running. That means moving scenery, lights, sound systems and props into the theater; installing the set and making sure it works; and keeping everything functioning well for the life of the production.

Eight shows remain open including "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" at the St. James Theatre. The limited-run musical originally had been shut by the strike but was reopened last week by court order.

Jujamcyn Theaters, which owns the St. James, initially announced it would appeal the state Supreme Court decision. But on Monday, Jujamcyn agreed not to seek an immediate appeal, meaning the $6 million production can continue uninterrupted for the rest of its holiday run. The engagement ends Jan. 6.

On the other coast, meanwhile, Hollywood studios and striking movie and TV writers prepared for a second day of talks Tuesday, more than three weeks after writers put down their pens in a dispute over work aired on the Internet.

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