Despite Writers Guild members having authorized a strike to begin as early as 11.1, N.Y. Times guy Michael Cieply is reporting that “bargainers for both sides this week felt their way toward something missing from their stalled talks: the kind of unofficial conversations that [have] led to deals in the past.”

Times reporter Brooks Barnes, meanwhile, is re-stating the received wisdom that moviegoers “would not feel any immediate impact” from a strike “because studios work a year or more in advance and have been stockpiling scripts to shoot in case writers walk the picket line.”

There’s even an upside, Barnes reports, in that “some big franchise films, like the Transformers sequel, are likely to be delayed.” Good! Less suffering on my end, I mean. (Selfish as that sounds.) Sitting through the first hour of Transformers last summer was pure unmitigated hell. I was at Laser Blazer three or four days ago and they were showing the Transformers DVD on four or five monitors. The amplified voice of Optimus Prime was literally giving me indigestion.

Barnes add that “fans could suffer [from the strike] later on as films pushed earlier into production surface with poor results in 2009.”