Stagehands, producers to meet this weekend
The two orgs entrenched in the labor dispute that has shut down Broadway have made hush-hush plans to resume negotiations this weekend.“Talks have been scheduled between Local One and the League of American Theaters and Producers beginning this weekend, at an undisclosed place and time,” read a joint statement issued by the orgs. No further information about the meeting between the stagehands union and Rialto producers was confirmed — although some legiters said a rep from non-League producing org Disney would attend and potentially mediate the talks, suggesting that pressure from the Mouse had helped get the two sides back to the table. (The latest Disney Theatrical Prods. offering, “The Little Mermaid,” is skedded to open Dec. 6, joining strong sellers “The Lion King” and “Mary Poppins” on the Broadway boards.) It also seems likely that IATSE president Thomas Short will join Local One officials at the upcoming meeting. Meanwhile, the strike extended into its fifth day and looked ready to stretch at least through Saturday. Two Broadway openings — “The Farnsworth Invention” Wednesday nightand “The Seafarer” tonight — have already been darkened. Jeffrey Richards, producer of Chicago transfer “August: Osage County,” said that if the labor dispute were resolved by Sunday night, he would contemplate opening “August” cold on its originally skedded date, Nov. 20. Rialto thesps, instructed by Actors’ Equity to show up and sign in for work throughout the shutdown, are skedded to receive their strike benefits — $405 per thesp per week — from an Equity rep today. Stagehands’ union Local One has been wrangling with the League over a new work contract for several weeks. The walkout, which began Saturday, has shuttered 27 Broadway productions. The work stoppage already has dragged on longer than the 2003 strike called by Broadway musicians, which lasted four days. With the two sides in the current dispute seemingly still far apart on central issues, particularly contractual hiring requirements for the load-in and running of Broadway shows, it remains impossible to predict how long it will take to achieve a resolution.