Hollywood studios, actors break off labor talks

Wed May 7, 2008 12:37am EDT
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Major studios and the Screen Actors Guild broke off three weeks of contract talks without agreement on Tuesday, stoking fears of renewed Hollywood labor unrest after a 100-day writers strike that ended in February.

News of the stalemate came in a statement from the studios' bargaining agent, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), about 90 minutes after a self-imposed deadline for reaching a settlement had passed.

The AMPTP statement blamed "SAG's continued adherence to unreasonable demands," citing the union proposals to increase the "residual" payments actors earn for DVD sales as one of the key stumbling blocks.

Other differences singled out by the studios included union demands pertaining to residuals for Internet streaming of entertainment content and other areas of new media.

There was no immediate response from SAG.

The current three-year SAG contract covering 120,000 film and TV actors expires on June 30, but the union and studios have been under pressure to reach an early deal to dispel labor jitters that hang over the world's show business capital.

The 14-week screenwriters strike, Hollywood's worst labor clash in 20 years, shut down much of the TV industry, derailed several film productions and idled thousands of Hollywood workers, costing the local economy an estimated $3 billion.

SAG leaders have not sought authorization from rank-and-file members to call their own strike.   Continued...

<p>President of the Screen Actors Guild Alan Rosenberg speaks at the 14th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles January 27, 2008. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok</p>