July 21, 2008 / 5:28 AM / 10 years ago

Hollywood actors and studios face disconnect

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Three weeks after the expiration of their contract, the Screen Actors Guild and the studios appear to be living on different planets.

SAG says it’s still negotiating; the studios say their final offer is languishing on the table. A weekend get-together of the actors union gave little indication that those worlds are getting any closer.

Leaders of SAG spent the weekend trying to convince members that they are still negotiating with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP), the studios’ bargaining arm.

The AMPTP, however, has rejected this interpretation, saying negotiations ended when the contract expired June 30 and the studios made their final offer. It has said it will not entertain any more bargaining sessions or counterproposals.

Although film production has slowed, SAG national executive director Doug Allen told about 450 members during a regularly scheduled meeting on Saturday that they were in a de facto lockout, not a de facto strike.

And he pointed to a key sticking point in the AMPTP’s offer — emphasizing that SAG should have jurisdiction over all new-media productions, not just some.

Missing from the presentation, however, was any talk of the future of negotiations. No new dates have been set to sit down with the AMPTP’s negotiating committee; no timeline about what to expect in coming weeks was mentioned. In fact, SAG leaders told the members they were unable to give specific details of the negotiations, the AMPTP’s final offer or the union’s counterproposal.

After the meeting, one member said he got the feeling they were planning to meet in smaller groups with AMPTP members in order to hash out a deal, much like what happened during the writers strike. “They seemed to indicate that there were much smaller talks going on between them and the studios,” he said. “I got the feeling there was some sort of communication going on there.”

SAG reps have in the past several months met with key studio heads, including Disney’s Bob Iger. However, one studio insider close to the negotiations said no such meeting has been set up between SAG and studio heads.

SAG and the AMPTP have not held formal talks since June 30. Since then, there have been three meetings between the sides, including a question-and-answer session on the AMPTP’s offer, SAG’s response to the offer (which was a counterproposal that the studios rejected) and a two-hour sidebar last week that resulted in “no comments” from both sides.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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