Drivers back SAG & AFTRA, stop H'w'd ad shoot

Commercial producers asserted Wednesday that they had returned to normal levels of activity — thanks partly to shooting in less prominent locations — as the strike by union actors entered its third day.

With producers claiming a shift away from easily accessible locations, strikers prevented a Nike shoot Wednesday at a Hollywood location after Teamster drivers refused to cross a picket line to deliver equipment.

“We’re showing them that this is not going to be business as usual,” said Todd Amorde, strike coordinator for the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists. “We’re going to make it hard for them.”

Producers claimed Wednesday, however, that they are operating at full speed after a brief slow-down.

“Production is hopping today,” declared Matthew Miller, prexy of the Assn. of Independent Commercial Producers. “There has been a bit of wait-and-see when the strike started Monday but there is a lot of work out there today. The only difference is producers are being more cautious about where they shoot.”

Strikers targeted the Nike shoot after discovering it had been scheduled with a permit for street shooting. Pickets were in place by the time that the first equipment truck showed up, and its driver chose to honor the picket line.

The driver’s decision came on the heels of Joint Council 42 of the Teamsters, which covers Southern California, agreeing to support the strike. “The Teamsters felt it was time for us to come together with the actors,” said Tony Cousimano, president of Local 399, at the picketing. “If the advertisers are allowed to gut the contract, it will have a trickle-down effect for other unions in Hollywood.”

Commercial producers say advertisers and agencies, which are the targets of an actors’ strike for the first time in 12 years, have resumed business as usual. “We kind of feel stuck in the middle,” one said. “If someone disrupts a shoot, we may postpone it, but it will get shot somewhere else.”

Protesters also targeted ad agencies Wednesday with picketing in Los Angeles, New York, Portland and San Francisco. The unions took credit for disrupting a shoot for AIG Insurance on Tuesday, first in Brooklyn and later in Great Neck, Long Island.

SAG and AFTRA also scored their second public relations coup Wednesday involving a sports star as Boston Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra canceled a scheduled commercial shoot for Dunkin’ Donuts. On Tuesday, golfer Tiger Woods had canceled a shoot in Florida for a Nike ad.

Garciaparra’s shoot had been scheduled for today at Fenway Park in Boston. “As with Tiger Woods, SAG and AFTRA members nationwide thank Nomar Garciaparra for withholding his services from Dunkin’ Donuts at this time,” SAG president William Daniels said. “He’s hit a home run for us, and that’s what we’re seeing from all of our members. We’re all on the same team here.”

SAG spokesman Greg Krizman said the unions have not been notified of any members performing “struck” work. The unions have also claimed that more than a dozen employers have signed “interim” agreements to allow members to continue working under terms set by the unions but they have not yet disclosed the identities of those employers.

The strike affects 135,000 union members but only for TV and radio ads. The two sides negotiated for six weeks, but talks collapsed April 14 over the issues of pay structure for cable and network TV commercials, ads for the Internet and a monitoring system.

Actors are demanding that the flat fee for cable TV commercials be dropped in favor of “pay for play,” based on the number of showings. Advertisers have insisted that the current “pay for play” system in network be dropped for a flat-fee system. No new talks are scheduled.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more