Biz awaits break in ATA talks

The uncertain truce between actors and agents looks likely to hold for a few more weeks. Whether that’s a good sign as SAG heads into a rerun of its officers’ election is anybody’s guess.

Hollywood is slowly getting used to the fact that the sky didn’t fall Jan. 21, when SAG’s master franchise agreement expired. The concern was that a bloody battle would emerge, with agents unshackled from rules limiting significant investments by production and distribution companeis.

But rather than turn showbiz upside down, the Guild and the Assn. of Talent Agents agreed to an indefinite extension as they continue to negotiate under a news blackout.

This interim state has lasted for three weeks, giving rise to two paths of speculation:

A deal will emerge before SAG’s re-run election is over on March 8, possibly giving Melissa Gilbert a chance to portray herself as a “can-do” kind of SAG president.

Or, negotiations will simply keep going until after the election is over, possibly due to the uncertainty that Valerie Harper could beat Gilbert this time around.

The agents, for their part, seem singularly focused on the task at hand.

Indeed, a leading Hollywood commercials agent resigned Feb. 3 from the negotiating committee following the revelation that she disseminated inflammatory campaign information about the SAG elections to about 700 clients.

Though Cindy Kazarian denies she’s shown any bias, the material involved contentious campaign commentary, including a Gilbert supporter comparing Harper’s allies with fundamentalists who treat those who disagree “as enemies who must be punished for their blasphemy.”

ATA chief Karen Stuart says Kazarian resigned “to avoid any unnecessary disruption” in the negotiations, adding, “I make certain that committee members are clear about not getting involved in SAG elections.”

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