Hollywood studios issue warning on actors talks

Mon Apr 7, 2008 10:24pm EDT
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - With the next round of Hollywood labor talks a week away, the major studios on Monday urged actors to avoid renewed strife by embracing the framework of deals already reached with directors and striking screenwriters.

The message implicit in the open letter from the studios' bargaining arm, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, appeared to be that union demands going much beyond terms already ratified by two other major Hollywood guilds are out of the question.

"If our industry relies on this new framework, we can all avoid more harmful and unnecessary strikes," the AMPTP concluded in its six-paragraph statement. It left open the door for "reasonable compromises that are necessary."

There was no immediate response from the Screen Actors Guild, which opens negotiations with the studios on April 15 for a new three-year contract covering 120,000 film and television performers.

SAG leaders have said they would seek to improve on the labor settlements reached earlier this year by the Writers Guild of America and the Directors Guild of America.

Those deals, including the one in February ending a bitter 100-day writers strike that crippled much of Hollywood's film and TV industry, hinged on key provisions giving union members more money for work distributed over the Internet.

But their letter suggested the studios see little room for major additional concessions.

"They said in a press release what they could have said in a sentence, which is: "We're not giving any more in new media than we already gave,"' said Jonathan Handel, an entertainment attorney with ties to both sides in the labor talks.   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>