Hollywood actors and studios extend labor talks again

Fri May 2, 2008 9:57pm EDT
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Screen Actors Guild and major Hollywood studios said on Friday they had agreed to extend their contract talks again, this time on a day-by-day basis, with the aim of closing a deal by next Tuesday.

The announcement, coming as the parties neared a previous self-imposed deadline, revived hopes they could avoid renewed labor unrest in an entertainment industry still recovering from a 100-day screenwriters strike that ended in February.

The current three-year SAG contract covering 120,000 film and TV actors expires on June 30. But the union is under strong pressure to reach an early settlement in order to dispel strike jitters that continue to disrupt the film industry.

By prior agreement, SAG and the studios' bargaining agent, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, had planned to keep their sessions going through Friday, capping nearly three weeks of talks.

At midday, however, the two sides issued a brief notice saying they would "extend their negotiations on a day-to-day basis" through next Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. PDT (8:00 p.m. EDT), with a day off on Sunday.

There was no further comment from either party. But sources familiar with the course of negotiations said SAG had scaled back a number of demands considered major stumbling blocks.

In one such concession, they said, the union was now seeking what would effectively be a 15 percent increase in residual payments actors earn from DVDs, rather than a doubling of the DVD residual rate.

Striking writers were forced to give up demands for higher DVD residuals altogether in reaching their contract deal with studios more than two months ago.   Continued...

<p>Tourists pause on a walkway at a shopping mall which offers a view of the famed Hollywood sign at the hills in California March 14, 2008. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>