Hollywood braces for threat of actors strike

Tue Mar 4, 2008 6:13pm EST
 
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The final epilogue to the tumultuous writers strike has been written, but Hollywood is bracing for a possible a sequel to the costly walkout -- this one starring film and television actors.

While the TV industry has rushed to bring derailed shows back on the air since screenwriters returned to work three weeks ago, the threat of renewed labor unrest by actors in the months ahead has put movie studios in a tenuous situation.

Filmmakers are reluctant to launch any production that cannot be completed before the expiration of the Screen Actors Guild's major film and TV contract on June 30 -- a date being treated as the union's de facto strike deadline.

Assuming a typical 60-day movie shoot, plus extra time for days off, possible overruns and re-shoots that might be necessary, that means few if any big-studio movies will start filming after the end of this month, industry experts say.

"The studios for the most part are not greenlighting any movies that would have to be in production after that (June 30) deadline," said an insider at one leading talent agency who was not authorized to speak publicly about client issues.

Labor jitters have even prompted Hollywood's leading insurance carrier, Fireman's Fund Insurance Co, to offer a first-of-its-kind "strike expense" policy for studios.

The policy covers the costs of a strike-related production shutdown in the event that an actor's illness, equipment damage or other unexpected loss pushes the shooting schedule of a movie past SAG's June 30 contract deadline.

To qualify, a film must be scheduled to finish shooting by June 15 and already be covered by a so-called completion bond, which insures a movie's financial backers against the cost of failing to finish a picture on time and on budget.   Continued...

 
<p>The Hollywood Sign is seen between palm trees and snow dusted mountains in Los Angeles January 7, 2008. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok</p>