Actors, Hollywood studios reach deal, avert strike

Fri Apr 17, 2009 6:44pm EDT
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hollywood studios and the largest U.S. actors union reached a tentative deal on Friday on a new film and television contract that ends a bitter deadlock and would avert a strike the industry fears in a recession.

The Screen Actors Guild with its 120,000 members and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents movie studios, gave no details of the agreement.

In a joint statement, the two groups said the labor deal would go before SAG's national board of directors for review on Sunday. If approved, it would be put to a vote by SAG members, which one entertainment lawyer said might not occur until late May.

The tentative deal would replace a contract that expired last June 30 after months of often rancorous talks broke down over issues including how much actors should be paid for work delivered by new media, including the Internet and mobile phones, which are seen as a vital future distribution outlet.

Film production has since slowed in Hollywood due to labor uncertainty and the recession, and experts said a deal should pave the way for some increase in moviemaking.

Hollywood has feared a rerun of the 2007/2008 writers strike that crippled most television production and cost the Los Angeles-area economy an estimated $3 billion.

The lengthy talks split the SAG membership, with a moderate faction ousting hard-line chief negotiator Doug Allen in January and forming a new negotiating team. Talks resumed, then broke down again in February when the two sides could not agree on the length of a new contract.

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<p>Tourist Simon Boulet (L) takes a photo of himself and his girlfriend Estelle Lanoe in front of the Hollywood sign on Mount Lee while visiting Los Angeles from Paris, France as preparations continue for the 81st Academy Awards in Hollywood, California February 18, 2009. EUTERS/Danny Moloshok</p>