Opponents of final offer march outside WB

HOLLYWOOD — With SAG negotiations mired in stalemate, about 75 members picketed Wednesday outside the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank in protest of the final offer on the table from the major studios.

The three-hour event, aimed at persuading SAG members to vote against ratifying the contract if it is sent to members, drew SAG national board members Joe Bologna, Frances Fisher, Diane Ladd, France Nuyen, Nancy Sinatra, Renee Taylor and Angela Watson.

“Actors will not accept a 97% pay cut,” Taylor’s sign read.

Participants — mostly from SAG’s hardline Membership First coalition — blasted the Feb. 19 final offer from the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, alleging its new-media provisions will make it difficult for middle-class actors to make a living as programming migrates to digital platforms. Ladd carried a blank sign, asserting it showed the value of the AMPTP’s offer.

“The deal that’s on the table is just wrong,” Ladd told Daily Variety. “I helped make this studio millions of dollars on ‘Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,’ and got it both an Oscar nomination and then helped them create a TV series. So I want the studios to make a lot of money, but when they do, I think we deserve a little bitty piece of it.”

SAG and the AMPTP have had no official comment about the standoff in several weeks. Although SAG’s feature-primetime master contract expired on June 30, there’s no indication of any recent movement toward a compromise over the issue of when the new contract will expire — even though the moderate coalition that controls SAG’s national board has agreed to the rest of the congloms’ offer.

Former board member Peter Kwong said rank-and-file members have overlooked problems with the deal because of concerns about the economy. “I think there’s a lot of confusion and misinformation about what the national board is doing,” he added.

The turnout at the event, organized by Scott Wilson, was better than at a similar rally held last week amid rainy weather outside 20th Century Fox. Wilson promised there will be another rally outside a studio next Wednesday.

In a 27-10 tally on Monday night, SAG’s fractured Hollywood board voted to advise the national board to send out the congloms’ final offer to members — without a recommendation — even though the national panel spurned taking this step two weeks ago.

Membership First, which lost its majority on the national board last fall but still controls the Hollywood board, has asserted that the offer should be sent out in its current form and then voted down by the members to force the congloms to improve the terms.

The AMPTP has said repeatedly that it won’t sweeten the offer. A calculator on the AMPTP’s website said Wednesday that SAG members have lost more than $58 million in salary hikes that they would have received had guild leaders accepted the deal last June.

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