Actors group reconfirms stance on labor talks

Mon Feb 9, 2009 12:19am EST
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The board of the largest U.S. actors union on Sunday reconfirmed the recent ouster of their chief negotiator in long-stalled labor contract talks with Hollywood's major studios, said a source with knowledge of the decision.

The national governing board of the Screen Actors Guild, which represents some 120,000 actors, "readopted and affirmed" its vote late last month to fire former labor negotiator Doug Allen and give his duties to two people, this source said, but did not set a date to restart contract talks with the studios.

Citing unnamed sources, showbusiness newspapers The Hollywood Reporter and Daily Variety said talks could restart as soon as February 17. An SAG spokeswoman declined to comment.

After months of stalled talks between SAG and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents Hollywood's major film and TV studios, SAG's national governing board fired Allen and appointed attorney David White as interim executive director and John McGuire as chief negotiator.

SAG and the AMPTP had planned to resume contract talks last week, but were blocked by a legal bid by guild president Alan Rosenberg to reinstate Allen and turn back the board's move. A Los Angeles judge late last week denied Rosenberg's move, leading to Sunday's meeting of SAG's national governing board.

SAG members have been without a film and prime-time TV contract since their old pact expired on June 30, and the AMPTP issued what it said was a last, best offer.

Major sticking points have centered on issues of how much actors should get paid for work distributed over the Internet.

Since July, SAG has been embroiled in an internal power struggle over how to proceed, which has included talk of a strike amid the weak economy. The struggle eventually led to Allen's replacement.

(Editing by Sandra Maler)