Hollywood studios, actors plan to meet

Tue Jul 15, 2008 6:40pm EDT
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - As Hollywood's labor stalemate dragged into its third week on Tuesday, major studios said they agreed to meet again with the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) but would not budge from their "final" contract offer.

The studios' bargaining agent, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, said the session, requested by SAG and set for Wednesday, "will be solely for the purposes of listening to whatever SAG has to say."

"It is important to note that SAG has declined to specify the purpose of the meeting," the producers group added, describing the planned get-together as a "sidebar meeting" consisting of a "small group of people from each side."

SAG, which has pressed the studios to reopen formal contract talks, declined comment except to confirm that the two parties planned to meet at 1 p.m. local time on Wednesday.

The contract at issue covers the work of 120,000 SAG members in prime-time TV and movies, an industry still reeling from a 14-week screenwriters strike that ended in February. A strike by the actors is widely seen as unlikely, for now.

The old SAG contract expired hours after the studios presented the union with their "final" offer as a take-it-or-leave-it proposition on June 30.

SAG nonetheless delivered a counteroffer during a four-hour meeting last Thursday that ended with the studios refusing to give any ground and insisting that SAG submit the industry's latest proposal to union members for a vote.

SAG leaders have so far been unwilling to do so, saying the studios' offer -- mirroring terms endorsed last Tuesday by the smaller American Federation of Television and Radio Artists in a separate TV-only contract -- falls short in several areas.   Continued...