Silver Chips Online

Screen Actors Guild resume talks amidst strike threat

Actor walkout less likely but possibility remains

By David Zheng, Online Entertainment Editor
February 4, 2009
This is not original reporting. All information has been compiled from Bloomberg, New York Times and Associated Press. Silver Chips Online posts this news summary to provide readers with a forum for discussion.

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) representatives renewed stalled negotiations on actor contracts this Tuesday following the ousting of SAG National Executive Director and chief negotiator Doug Allen, a strong proponent for calling a strike vote, on Jan. 26. Deliberations had been at a standstill on both sides since SAG's previous contract expired last June.
SAG President Alan Rosenburg, shown speaking at the SAG awards last month.
SAG President Alan Rosenburg, shown speaking at the SAG awards last month.


The calls for an actor's strike mainly stem from the lack of collected royalties from sales and distribution from Internet services, such as iTunes, that were previously missing in contracts with AMPTP, an organization of film studios including Viacom (CBS), Walt Disney (ABC), News Corp., Twentieth Century Fox, General Electric (NBC Universal), Warner Brothers, Sony, Paramount and MGM.

The 120,000-member SAG has been largely divided over whether to issue a strike vote. In the recent economic downturn, the union has seen waning internal support for the strike and has also faced opposition from many A-list actors including Tom Hanks, Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman.

Though the guild has not officially changed its stance on the matter nor revoked its original Oct. 19 plans to call a strike vote if negotiations with AMPTP failed, SAG faces resistance from its New York board, which split from national union leadership on Dec. 13. The strike authorization vote, which requires the approval of at least 75 percent of SAG voters, was originally scheduled on Jan. 2 but has been delayed indefinitely due to internal resistance, according to union president Alan Rosenburg.

SAG's ongoing strike threat conjures fresh memories of last year's 14-week Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike, which froze the entertainment world and is estimated to have cost the economy billions. With similar demands to AMPTP, WGA threatened the Golden Globe Awards and the Oscars, an quickly approaching event. It is unlikely, however, that SAG will see similar success.

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