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Green Bay Press-Gazette

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

strike: the sequel? producers end talks with actors union

Here we go again.

Hollywood producers slouched away from negotiations with the Screen Actors Guild on Tuesday, like a mollycoddled little kid snatching up his marbles and running home. (Do kids still play marbles these days? Geez, I'm old.) After 18 days of talks, the prodouchers — er, producers — decided that the Guild's request for a larger share of DVD and online revenue just wasn't gonna work for them. Sorry, actors, guess you'll just have to make those $20-million paychecks stretch a little further this week.

OK, but seriously, the last time the producers pulled this crap we got a three-month writers union strike, resulting in endless reality shows, a shortened season of almost every scripted show, and the death of happiness. SAG's contract with the producers is set to expire at the end of June, and according to Variety, guild president Alan Rosenberg is going to "take the temperature of the membership" and might try to authorize a strike as early as next week.

Whether or not things will get that bad and we'll actually see Tom Cruise marching the picket lines, jumping up and down on benches is too far off to know. Something tells me the producers aren't going to be quite as hard-nosed with SAG as they were with the writers. As Quint over at Ain't It Cool News says:

"It was easier for them to snub the writers. There are literally hundreds of thousands of unmade scripts sitting at the studios. They could pull damn near anything off the shelf and have material. However, actors drive the marketing of all films, from cartoons to independent to big studio tentpoles. They need actors to convince their money guys to put a film into production, to sell foreign rights, to raise interest in films with the general movie going populace."

Yet Quint goes so far as to subtitle his article "SAG headed to the picket lines," so maybe he's not as confident as he appears.

For now, the producers are focusing their evil attention on the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, a smaller actors union, whose contract also ends June 30. Negotiation — or "negoshe," as it's known in the biz — is expected to go much smoother with AFTRA, meaning it's possible the producers just want to sharpen their claws on the little guy first before attacking SAG.

But by securing a deal before SAG means TV programs that AFTRA covers — including "Reaper," "Curb Your Enthusiasm," and "Flight of the Conchords" — would get a leg-up, production-wise. And if SAG does indeed strike, and that strike lasts for any substantial length of time, that would mean further drought of new episodes, as well as a diminished fall line-up.

Thoughts? Concerns? Speculation on whether we'll actually see "Pushing Daisies" or "24" ever again?

Adam Reinhard,



I'm confused. They (the powers that be) knew these contract deadlines were looming. Is there a rule that says they can't begin negotiations before a certain time? Or did they just not want to start arguing until they could officially storm off into a strike?

For the record, I'm not a fan of studio greed, but I am less sympathetic to the actor's plight than I was the writer's. Millions, indeed.

By Blogger Ms. Quarter, At May 7, 2008 at 1:58 PM  

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