Actors, ad producers say deal not imminent

Hunt gives coin to strike fund as talks continue

Negotiators for striking actors and advertisers bargained into the night Thursday in Gotham for a seventh consecutive weekday and will meet again today to hammer out a settlement in the 21-week work stoppage.

The negotiators, citing a mediator-imposed confidentiality agreement, would only say talks are expected to continue today. Sources close to the talks said a settlement is not likely today, noting the two sides remain a long way from reaching agreement even though this round of talks has lasted far longer than the two other sessions since the start of the strike.

“We are still talking and that’s good news, but there’s absolutely no way that both sides have agreed that we have to have this wrapped up on Friday,” an insider said. “We are planning to stay here until a deal is done.”

Hurdles remain

The toughest obstacles to a possible deal will likely be the question of retaining network TV residuals and adjusting cable from the current buyout system. Monitoring and Internet jurisdiction could also create last-minute problems for negotiators

Actors continued to receive support from high-profile members as Helen Hunt announced she donated $100,000 to the Screen Actors Guild’s strike relief fund to aid SAG members who have exhausted their financial resources during the strike.

“In working and talking with my peers, I am seeing nothing but growing momentum and strengthened resolve towards standing together with every member of SAG until this strike is settled fairly,” Hunt said. “Like everyone else, people who have devoted their lives to the craft of acting need to pay their rent and buy groceries. It feels only right to show my support.”

Her donation comes a day after Nicolas Cage gave $200,000, and a week after Kevin Spacey and Harrison Ford each gave $100,000. Donations to the fund, endowed last month by SAG with $500,000, have also come from George Clooney, Jay Leno, ‘N Sync and Britney Spears.

Several hundred members of SAG and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists staged a pair of Manhattan demonstrations Thursday, starting at the BBD&O ad agency, followed by a silent vigil outside the site of negotiations at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Celebrity members attending included Harry Belafonte, Edie Falco, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tony LoBianco and Tony Roberts.

Richard Dreyfuss and former SAG prexy Richard Masur appeared on CNN’s “Talkback” program to discuss the strike, with Dreyfuss stressing that the work stoppage is about what he termed the anonymous actor who earns between $5,000 and $50,000 a year.

Canuck conflict

The BBD&O demonstration was staged over its shooting of non-union ads. The agency was recently accused by the Canadian actors union of using Americans without work permits for a shoot in Quebec.

Actors continued to hit corporate targets Thursday, claiming to have slowed production at General Motors’ Corvette plant in Bowling Green, Ky., in a protest over GM’s non-union ads. Strike captain Bill Rohlfing said all Teamsters and UPS trucks refused to make deliveries to the facility.

“This is sending a strong message to the advertisers to settle this strike,” Rohlfing said.

In Los Angeles, activists picketed Thursday in support of striking transit workers and plan to demonstrate today in Hollywood against McDonald’s & AT&T over non-union ads.

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