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Actors, Producers Talks To Resume

July 2, 2001

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LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Representatives of movie and television actors and producers planned to return to the bargaining table Monday in an attempt to avoid an industry-crippling strike.

Negotiators trying to forge a new contract for the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists ended 14 hours of talks about midnight amid signs that the lengthy negotiations would lead to a new deal.

The actors’ contract expired Sunday at 12:01 a.m. and most of the 100 negotiators appeared in good spirits later in the morning when they returned to the headquarters of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers for bargaining.

AFTRA spokeswoman Pamm Fair said late Sunday that the marathon bargaining signaled that progress was being made.

``The fact that we’re still here indicates there’s a reason to still be here,″ Fair said before talks concluded.

Motion picture alliance spokesman Barry Liden earlier also sounded optimistic.

``We all want to get a deal as soon as we possibly can,″ he said.

Both sides said they remain committed to reaching a new contract that would avert a potentially damaging walkout for the entertainment industry. The parties have adhered to a news blackout and have not offered details about the status of negotiations.

The expired contract will remain in effect as long as the talks progress.

Uncertainty over the negotiations had prompted studios to accelerate production. Even with an agreement, Hollywood production could stall because producers wouldn’t start a new movie until an actors’ deal was made final, and it takes nearly eight weeks to complete preproduction work.

Fall TV shows, which begin filming in the summer, also could be delayed for weeks.

Among the guilds’ top concerns is increasing pay for the nearly 75,000 actors who earn between $30,000 and $70,000 annually.

Only about 2 percent of the guilds’ membership earn more than $100,000 a year, including multimillion-dollar celebrities such as Jack Nicholson and Russell Crowe.

SAG spokesman Greg Krizman said a strike was not imminent. Even if talks broke down, he said, the guild would require a strike authorization vote from members before initiating a work stoppage.

That vote would take between four and five weeks to complete.

Last year, the actors’ unions staged a six-month strike by commercial actors that might have driven as much as $1 billion worth of work overseas.

The actors’ negotiations have been more low-key than the May talks involving the Writers Guild of America.

The writers guild settled its new contract in early June, increasing overall pay by more than $41 million over the previous agreement. After that, many analysts predicted the actors would accept a similar deal.

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On the Net:

Screen Actors Guild: http://www.sag.org/

American Federation of Television and Radio Artists: http://www.aftra.org/

Alliance of Motion Picture and Television: http://www.amptp.org/

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