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Archive for Monday, March 31, 2008

Screen actors guilds cut ties before upcoming contract talks

March 31, 2008

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— Unions representing film and television actors will negotiate separately with producers in upcoming contract talks after board members of the TV actors union voted Saturday to sever a long-standing agreement between the two guilds.

The vote by the board of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists came hours before a meeting with the Screen Actors Guild and just three months before the expiration of the contract covering movies and prime-time shows.

Despite a sometimes rocky 27-year relationship the unions had shown recent signs of peace as they prepared for the upcoming talks.

The two groups had hoped at Saturday's meeting to set a start date for negotiations. Instead of discussing strategies the sides swapped accusations.

"For the past year SAG leadership in Hollywood has engaged in a relentless campaign of disinformation and disparagement," AFTRA president Roberta Reardon said in a written statement.

SAG President Alan Rosenberg's written response: "AFTRA's refusal now to bargain together with us and their last-second abandonment of the joint process is calculated, cynical and may serve the interests of their institution, but not its members."

The AFTRA board said the vote to terminate the agreement, known as "Phase One," was "overwhelming."

Wary of repeating the damage wrought by the recently ended 100-day Hollywood writers strike, producers and several A-list actors including Tom Hanks, George Clooney, Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro had been pressing for negotiations to start as early as this week.

The 120,000-member Screen Actors Guild represents actors in movies, TV and other media. The 70,000-member TV and radio federation represents, among others, actors, singers, announcers and journalists.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents studios, said in a statement that it looks forward to bargaining with AFTRA. It did not mention SAG.

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