L.A. mayor continues compromise campaign

The Screen Actors Guild’s much-anticipated contract talks with producers are set to begin May 15, sources say. The negotiations will start with caucuses followed by an exchange of proposals.

SAG has not confirmed the date, but spokesman Greg Krizman indicated that the talks would not begin this week because the negotiating team had to rearrange schedules following the May 4 conclusion of the Writers Guild of America talks. He said the extra time was needed due to logistical concerns, “particularly for people who have to travel to Los Angeles from other parts of the country.”

SAG and AFTRA reps had proposed a May 10 start a month ago, but had also told the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers that they would not launch their talks until the end of WGA negotiations.

SAG chief negotiator Brian Walton and AMPTP prexy Nick Counter met informally Monday to go over scheduling and ground rules for the talks, to be held at AMPTP headquarters in Encino. The SAG/AFTRA contract covering film and primetime series TV expires June 30.

High spirit

In the meantime, Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan will continue his “spirit of compromise” campaign to urge both sides to avoid a strike because of its economic impact, estimated at $6.9 billion with a five-month WGA strike and a three-month SAG strike. “We are fully aware of our responsibility to the community but we certainly appreciate the Mayor’s involvement,” Krizman said.

An AMPTP rep said Monday that the companies were “encouraged” that the successful resolution of the WGA talks would lead to a SAG pact. The rep noted that SAG prexy William Daniels has declared repeatedly that members of his guild do not want to strike and that “there is a deal to be made.”

“We are going to take Daniels at his word,” the rep said.

Riordan is hosting a breakfast at his official residence today to celebrate the WGA’s tentative deal. About 100 guests are expected, including Counter and WGA West secretary-treasurer Michael Mahern.

Jack Kyser, chief economist with the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp., said Monday that he hopes the WGA deal provides a template for the SAG negotiations.

“As an aside, you get the impression that the national media was disappointed that there was a settlement with the WGA, since they won’t get to write those ‘end of L.A.’ stories,” Kyser said.

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