Friday, July 11, 2008

Actor strikewatch update

The possibility of a strike remains in Hollywood, as the Screen Actors Guild yesterday rejected the "final offer" from the producers' group AMPTP. The current contract expired at the end of June 30, although SAG did not strike and the producers did not lock out the actors. The producers had given their ultimatum, a "final offer" just before the contract lapsed. As expected, the proposal made no movement on the actors' key demands on DVD payments and new media.

On July 8, AFTRA, the sister actors' union, announced that is members had ratified a new contract with the producers, something SAG had campaigned heavily against. SAG is perceived to have less leverage now, although their spin is that the ratification percentage was unusually low (62.4% rather than >90%), and the vote included members of AFTRA who are not actors. The vote was also an indicator to SAG about the level of support for a possible strike authorization vote among its own members (which would require 75% voting yes), because about 40000 actors are members in both actor unions; the conclusion of the vote casts some doubt on SAG's ability to launch a strike.

Yesterday on July 10, SAG officially rejected the producers' final offer, as expected (and offered their own compromise in the form of a counterproposal, although technically the producers aren't even listening after their final offer). But all of Hollywood, including the producers and actors, is loathe to strike after weathering the recent WGA strike. California governor Arnold Schawzenegger and LA mayor Antonio Villaraigosa have openly offered their services as mediators. The producers have stated they are through with negotiating after giving their final offer-- SAG states it is ready to continue negotiating. The impasse may continue through the late summer, although if it continues until September, it may affect the Emmy Awards, which the producers would likely rather avoid; it would also delay the starting of production for Lost's Season 5.

Read more at Variety here and here and the NY Times here
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