Strike 2, and actors, studios may be out this time around
By Damian Dovarganes, AP Grey's Anatomy doc Patrick Dempsey and other Screen Actors Guild members
went on a sympathy strike when the writers picketed last fall;
now it's the stars' turn to negotiate with the studios.
The A-Listers will be the last to feel any real sting should a strike happen, it's ostensibly for the other 99% of the SAG membership. Clooney and Hanks have been quietly meeting with SAG leaders and studio heads like Iger since before the WGA strike ended to help move this thing along.
SAG's new request for negotiations to begin as soon as possible marks an about-face from the position it took after the majors announced they were ready to go with talks in mid-February. It was previously unwilling to start negotiations until after it had completed its official preparations -- despite pressure from high-profile members George Clooney, Robert De Niro, Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep to start ASAP.
SAG had insisted it could not start talks until a joint board meeting approved the joint proposal -- an event that had been set for Saturday but was then called off once AFTRA's board voted to end its negotiating partnership with SAG.
Sources believe the majors will opt for talks with AFTRA first since early informal discussions with SAG leaders haven't yielded much. Two meetings between SAG leaders and Disney topper Robert Iger and News Corp. prexy Peter Chernin have been unproductive.
Going with AFTRA first will enable the AMPTP to put SAG on the defensive as its June 30 contract expiration nears. And that's a scenario the majors are likely to relish -- especially since SAG was the strongest union supporter of the WGA during the 100-day writers strike.
Both SAG and AFTRA have OK'd bargaining proposals that include nonstarters for the companies, such as increased DVD rates and a shorter period of free usage for promotional purposes for streamed content than the 17- and 24-day windows in the DGA and WGA deals.
Actors, producers meet to avert another strike Screen Actors Guild seeks better deal than writers
By David B. Wilkerson, MarketWatch
CHICAGO (MarketWatch) -- Just two months after the end of a damaging writers' strike that halted most of primetime television production, Hollywood studios are in formal talks with the Screen Actors' Guild, hoping to avert another work stoppage.
The current SAG contract expires June 30. Friday marks the fourth full day of formal talks with the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers on a new pact.
SAG is looking for many of the same things that the Writers Guild of America sought during its three-month walkout, only somewhat more. It wants a greater percentage of revenue from ad-supported streaming of TV shows and more money from DVD sales.
It also wants a percentage of the revenue from product placements, among other items. In an era when the digital video recorder allows consumers to zip past traditional commercials, more companies are doing deals to have their products seen during the course of a movie or TV show.
Actors argue that when they have to do a scene in which they hold a product, and/or talk about it, such a scene essentially constitutes a commercial, and they have a right to be paid for the ad as the studios are.
The Screen Actors Guild and the majors are nearing the end of four weeks of negotiations on a feature-primetime deal with little certainty as to whether they'll reach a deal.
SAG and the majors launched what will likely be the final day of negotiations at mid-morning at the headquarters of the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers without any public comment.
Both sides have agreed to a deadline of 5 p.m. today to conclude this round of talks and the congloms are disinclined to grant a third extension to SAG unless there's a deal within sight.
In a potentially positive sign, bargaining lasted well into Monday evening as SAG made several concessions on its proposals - a move that could set into motion the give-and-take process for closing a deal. But it's understood that the AMPTP remains frustrated over SAG's insistence that it has to receive better terms in new media those contained in the DGA and WGA pacts.
CHICAGO (MarketWatch) -- One of the two major actors' unions has reached a tentative three-year agreement with Hollywood studios, putting more pressure on the Screen Actors Guild to resolve its dispute with producers before SAG's current contract runs out on June 30.
The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, representing about 52,000 working actors, said Wednesday that it has agreed to a tentative primetime television pact with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.
The deal establishes new residual structures that AFTRA members will receive for paid Internet downloads and ad-supported streaming of television shows. It also sets up a provision that allows both sides to revisit new media residuals at a future date.
AFTRA's pact also calls for wage increases for traditional media in each year of the contract and increases the number of covered background actors in Los Angeles, among other provisions.
Meanwhile, talks between SAG and the AMPTP have been suspended since May 7.
Negotiations between the actors guild and the majors resume this morning after a three-day recess. The sides return to the bargaining table amid pervasive uncertainty as to whether they can bridge the significant gaps between them and close a deal in the next four weeks.
SAG's current feature-primetime deal expires June 30, but SAG's leaders, after talking tough for more than a year, still haven't taken the final step of seeking a strike authorization -- which requires 75% support.
SAG's fellow thesp union, AFTRA, cut a primetime deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers last month. Given the assertive stances by SAG national exec director Doug Allen and president Alan Rosenberg and their animosity toward AFTRA, it's unlikely that SAG leaders will accept a carbon copy of the AFTRA pact.
"SAG's in a tough spot," notes Howard Fabrick of Akin, Gump, Strauss Hauer & Feld, who's negotiated past deals with SAG. "I feel like the tide is running against them with AFTRA having made their deal now. A lot of their working members in TV were hurt by the WGA strike, so the leadership may not be able to get the support that would be required in a strike authorization vote."
Today's negotiations will be the 22nd session between SAG and the majors at AMPTP headquarters in Encino. It's the fourth session since rival union AFTRA completed its primetime deal with the AMPTP, leaving the question of how much of that deal can serve as a template for SAG.