Hollywood actor unions reach deal with advertisers

Wed Apr 1, 2009 3:51pm EDT
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hollywood's two actors' unions reached a contract deal with advertisers on Wednesday, creating an opening for the larger of the pair to jump-start stalled labor talks with film and television studios.

The Screen Actors Guild, the biggest U.S. actors' union with 120,000 members, is still seeking a deal covering film and TV performers to replace a former contract with Hollywood's major studios that expired on June 30, 2008.

"With this (advertisers) deal presumably done, assuming ratification by the unions, SAG can turn its full attention now to its most significant agreement of all," said Jonathan Handel, an entertainment attorney monitoring the talks.

SAG rejected the studios' "last, best and final" offer in February, then started negotiations for a separate contract covering commercials and advertisements. SAG bargained jointly with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, which represents 70,000 actors, performers and TV journalists.

The two unions began negotiations with the Joint Policy Committee of the American Association of Advertising Agencies on February 23 and reached a deal in New York on Wednesday.

AFTRA reached a separate deal with film and TV studios last year but SAG held out, initially seeking greater concessions on items such as pay for members' work on the Internet.

Industry sources have said SAG and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the studios, have now reached tentative deals on pay for Internet-related work, but in February the two groups found themselves at odds again over the length of a new contract.