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Actors’ union pauses to study studios’ offer

The contract between movie and TV actors and major Hollywood studios expired early Tuesday after the studios made a final offer and the Screen Actors Guild said it would take more than a day to study it.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The contract between movie and TV actors and major Hollywood studios expired early Tuesday after the studios made a final offer and the Screen Actors Guild said it would take more than a day to study it.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers said the offer was worth more than $250 million in additional compensation to members of the guild over the three years of the proposed contract.

The current pact expired at 12:01 a.m. PDT, but both sides said they would continue to work under the old contract after the deadline passed.

“In short, our final offer to SAG represents a final hope for avoiding further work stoppages and getting everyone back to work,” the alliance said in a statement. The alliance said film production had been “virtually shut down” because of uncertainty about a deal.

The AMPTP will meet with guild representatives Wednesday afternoon to explain the offer, but will not entertain counterproposals, spokesman Jesse Hiestand said.

The guild said it would prepare a formal response once it analyzes the 43-page offer, but SAG’s chief negotiator, executive director Doug Allen, immediately criticized it.

“This offer does not appear to address some key issues important to actors,” he said in a statement.

For example, residual payments to actors for reruns of productions that were made only for the Internet were “incalculable,” he said, adding it would “mean the beginning of the end of residuals.”

The offer, made less than five months after the 100-day writers strike, was in line with deals cut with directors and writers guilds, as well as the tentative deal reached in May with the smaller actors union, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, both sides said.

The guild, however, has waged an all-out campaign against the AFTRA deal, which some 70,000 members were asked to ratify.

SAG, which represents 120,000 actors in movies, TV and other media, shares 44,000 dual members with AFTRA, which includes actors, singers, announcers and journalists.

Results are due July 8.

The guild has said the AFTRA deal left many areas for improvement, including on residual payments for DVD sales, in the area of advertising weaved into scripts and on compensation for Internet content.

That position suggested SAG would turn down the producers’ final offer, said Jonathan Handel, a former lawyer for the Writers Guild of America.

“SAG says it’s reviewing the offer, but in fact what we can expect is a thorough rejection,” Handel said. “This really is a situation where we’re looking at a bit of a stalemate.”

AFTRA declined to comment.

The dispute has split actors who have taken sides between the warring unions.

Tom Hanks, Alec Baldwin and Kevin Spacey and others have urged support of the AFTRA deal, arguing that doing otherwise could result in a painful repeat of the writers strike, which ended in February and is estimated to have caused more than $2 billion in economic damage.

Jack Nicholson, Josh Brolin, Holly Hunter and others support SAG’s tactics, saying AFTRA should return to the bargaining table to get a better deal.

“I hope that cool heads prevail and that people get a chance to work,” actor Ron Perlman told Associated Press Television at the weekend premiere of his “Hellboy II: The Golden Army.” “I’m hoping and praying that they find some middle ground.”

Will Ferrell told AP Television last week that a strike would be unfortunate.

“I don’t think anyone wants to have to deal with a strike or go on strike, but if that’s what has to be done, that’s what has to be done,” he said.

In its statement Monday, the producers alliance warned of the damage of another walkout, saying a work stoppage would cost SAG members $2.5 million in wages every day.

Other labor groups in the industry would lose $13.5 million, while the California economy would take a daily $23 million hit, it said.

“With each passing day after June 30, there will be less work for those whose livelihoods depend on our industry,” the statement said.