Agents deal goes to the brink this week at SAG

Panel meets Tues. on ATA deal

The troubled deal between agents and the Screen Actors Guild may officially unravel this week.

SAG’s national executive committee will meet Tuesday at Los Angeles headquarters and be asked to consider a motion by SAG president William Daniels to allow a referendum on the agreement with the Assn. of Talent Agents.

ATA has insisted the landmark deal, which would allow agents to own indirect stakes in production and media companies, and vice versa, was completed Feb. 16 when it agreed to all 25 SAG proposals. Daniels has been adamant that the deal is not final, given that the Feb. 14 approval by SAG’s national board was conditioned on authorizing the executive committee to negotiate the “best possible deal” on two proposals.

Since then, Daniels has staged a pair of meetings with high-profile SAG members to seek views about the agreement and enable him to present a consensus at Tuesday’s meeting.

Attendees included Warren Beatty, Powers Booth, Robert Culp, Jodie Foster, Cuba Gooding Jr., Elliot Gould, Charlton Heston, Holly Hunter, Rob Schneider, Brenda Vaccaro, Vince Vaughn, Jon Voight, Alfre Woodard and Noah Wyle, along with SAG officers and negotiators.

Daniels said both meetings have been “productive. These are people who are very smart and can absorb a lot very quickly.”

Critics believe the deal creates conflicts of interest for agents despite increased protections for actors. As a result, the agreement is unlikely to receive approval if it goes to a vote of all 97,000 SAG members.

Additionally, ATA may withdraw the deal once SAG officially moves toward a referendum. Many insiders believe ATA went into negotiations last year with the understanding that an agreement would not be submitted to referendum.

Officially, the ATA has only insisted it still has a deal. It has not revealed what steps it will take, which could include legal action, seeking arbitration or calling for a re-opening of negotiations.

SAG’s charter contains key rules governing agents such as issuance of franchises. Agents sought the revamp in order to better compete with unregulated personal managers and have complained bitterly that SAG has not been enforcing contract provisions barring members from using managers to perform agent functions.

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