A wrinkle for SAG

AFTRA, agents discussing rule changes

The complicated stalemate between the Screen Actors Guild and Hollywood agents has developed another wrinkle.

SAG’s sister union, the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists, is holding three days of meetings this week with the Assn. of Talent Agents on possible updates to AFTRA’s decades-old rules governing tenpercenters. Unlike SAG, AFTRA has not yet spelled out its position, and ATA has refused to comment on the talks.

“The talks are somewhere between exploratory and full negotiations,” said AFTRA spokeswoman Pamm Fair. “There’s no deadline for completing them.”

The opening round of talks, which began Monday in Los Angeles and are set to conclude today, could help provide the groundwork for upcoming discussions between SAG and ATA. SAG’s master franchise agreement expires Jan. 20, with negotiations expected to be set after the Guild’s elections conclude next week.

Agents have asked SAG to ease rules barring tenpercenteries from having an ownership interest in or being partly owned by production and distribution companies; the ATA argues the rules are outmoded, but SAG contends that loosening the ban will create an unacceptable conflict of interest, even with ATA-proposed protections for actors.

At a legislative hearing last month, SAG and ATA reps disagreed over whether the ATA financial-interest proposal conforms with state law, but both were optimistic they could reach a deal by Jan. 20. Negotiations between SAG and ATA broke down nearly a year ago.

The ATA and AFTRA agreed four months ago to jointly examine the provisions of Rule 12-B, which contains similar financial-interest restrictions to SAG rules in Section VI. The AFTRA rules have not been revised since 1958.

SAG reps were not in attendance at the ATA-AFTRA talks.

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