Contract sit-down would be first since July 16

Following a month of shuttle diplomacy by a federal mediator, SAG and the majors will meet Thursday for the first time in four months about their contract stalemate.

The two sides agreed Friday to the confab, set up by mediator Juan Carlos Gonzalez and held at the Sherman Oaks HQ of the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers.

Neither side issued any official comment. Both sides have made minimal disclosure about the process since the Screen Actors Guild requested mediation on Oct. 19. Gonzalez has met twice with both sides in an effort to resume talks.

Thursday’s meeting may not lead to resumption of formal contract negotiations. The AMPTP’s insisted repeatedly that it’s done negotiating and will not revise its final offer, issued on June 30 as SAG’s contract expired.

The AMPTP’s scheduled to hold negotiating sessions today through Wednesday with the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees over the West Coast contract covering 18 locals. That pact, which covers 25,000 below-the-line workers, expires in August.

SAG’s leaders have said virtually nothing about the negotiations since asking for mediation. Since late January, when SAG national exec director Doug Allen and president Alan Rosenberg blasted the just-signed DGA deal while the WGA was still on strike, SAG leaders have insisted they must receive a better deal than the other guilds.

The congloms appear to be betting that SAG won’t strike and are planning to ramp up feature production early next year. And they’ve indicated they’re only willing to tweak parts of the final offer — which contains terms similar to those in the WGA, DGA and AFTRA deals.

SAG’s national board also announced last month that its negotiating committee would have the power to determine if the mediation has failed and whether to send out a strike authorization to SAG’s 120,000 members. That vote — which would take at least a month — would have to generate approval from at least 75% of those voting for a strike to be called.

SAG’s also holding a meeting for members on Tuesday at its Hollywood headquarters to discuss part of the AMPTP’s proposal in new media, which SAG contends would pay no residuals for streaming of TV programs produced prior to July 1974.

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