Studios, actors resume contract talks
By Leslie Simmons
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - After a second weekend break, Hollywood's producers head back to the bargaining table Monday to resume formal talks on a new primetime TV contract with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA).
Talks between AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP) began May 7 following the suspension of negotiations with the Screen Actors Guild, AFTRA's sister union. The two performers unions are negotiating the primetime TV contract separately for the first time in 27 years after a fallout on the eve of formal talks.
The contracts for both unions expire June 30, and the studios are working feverishly to get as much shooting done before a possible strike.
Not much has been released about the AFTRA negotiations because of a news blackout. However, in an e-mail message to members last week, AFTRA president Roberta Reardon indicated that the two sides were making progress.
In the meantime, Los Angeles SAG members will meet Monday night to discuss the guild's recent contract talks and the state of the negotiation process. Talks between SAG and the AMPTP began April 15 and broke down May 6 with no new deal. The AMPTP has offered to meet with SAG on May 28, indicating that it expects to finish negotiations with AFTRA in the next week and a half.
In a video message to members posted last week on the union's Web site, SAG national executive director and chief negotiator Doug Allen said that the AMPTP suspended the negotiations "in spite of the progress we were making and moves we made in their direction."
Among the issues Allen said the two sides "spent quite a bit of time" discussing was product placement and integration in film and TV productions and "dealing with the circumstances that actors find themselves in when they're making scripted content but they're handed a product to extol or endorse.
"We've proposed language that says they should have the right to refuse to do that if they're not comfortable essentially making a commercial in the middle of scripted content," he added. Continued...