SAG panel eases regs on agents

Eastern arm expected to back proposals

Proposals to allow talent agencies and media companies to invest indirectly in each other have cleared a key hurdle within the ruling body of the Screen Actors Guild.

The Western region of SAG’s board of directors voted late Monday night to send a series of proposals, including the easing of financial investment restrictions, to the Eastern region’s board of directors.

Sources close to the talks expressed optimism that the Eastern panel, scheduled to meet Monday in New York, will also endorse the proposals.

The proposals, which involve amendments to the SAG charter, are also believed to include creation of a code of conduct for agents under which agencies would post a performance bond against the default of individual agents. The proposals have been worked out over the past two months by negotiators for the union and agents.

Representatives of both sides said they have agreed to keep details of the current proposals confidential. But sources have indicated the proposed changes in SAG’s rules would allow media companies and agencies to invest in each other so long as one does not control the other.

However, the proposals are believed not to be so far-reaching that agents would be allowed to produce films and television shows.

Monday’s approval by the Western region board came after more than four hours of a closed-door special session at SAG headquarters in Los Angeles.

Agents have contended the changes are crucial to enable them to compete effectively against managers, who operate with fewer regulations and are able to serve as producers of their clients’ shows.

Karen Stewart, executive director of the Assn. of Talent Agencies, said she could not comment on the specifics of the proposals, but noted that both sides had been able to cooperate during negotiations.

“It has always been our desire to work with SAG,” she added. “The proposals are designed to have agents assist SAG, and SAG assist agents in their efforts for their clients.”

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