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Studios, Actors Reach Tentative Agreement

18 Apr, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The Screen Actors Guild and The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the union representing Hollywood studios, have tentatively reached a labor accord ending nearly year-long acrimonious negotiations.

Details of the agreement covering television programs and motion pictures will not be disclosed prior to review by the SAG national board of directors April 19, at a previously scheduled board meeting via videoconference in Los Angeles and New York.

Actors have been working under an interim agreement following the expiration of the previous deal June 30, 2008.

Initial reports suggest the new deal would give actors a 3.5% annual pay raise in addition to mandating minimum fees and first-ever residuals on ad-supported streams of movies, TV shows, permanent downloads (burn-to-disc), original and derivative new-media programs.

It remains to be seen if the new contract, which in large part mirrors what the studios offered last summer, includes language revamping the 20-year-old home video residual agreement — a provision the studios have steadfastly refused to address. The agreement originally applied to VHS, but the subsequent arrival of DVD and Blu-ray made potential residuals a more lucrative prospect.

SAG hardliners, including president Allen Rosenberg, have long argued actors were mislead by studios about the potential of DVD (and subsequent residuals) and vowed not to be duped about new media in the same way.

A faction of union moderates, seeking to fast track a new contract due to the burgeoning economic recession, earlier this year replaced chief negotiator Doug Allen with a new negotiating team, headed by senior advisor John McGuire.


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