Guild, AFTRA ad talks will resume

Despite recent nudges by Tom Hanks and other high-profile thesps, SAG and the congloms have stayed silent about their long-stalled film-TV negotiations.

The Screen Actors Guild has yet to officially acknowledge informal moves by Hanks, George Clooney and other stars to persuade the congloms to find a compromise on the issue of when the SAG’s master feature-primetime contract would expire.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers has also not commented on the moves by the stars, but people close to the situation have indicated that the stars’ foray is being taken seriously. Hanks and Clooney backed the moderate coalition that’s in control of SAG’s national board on key occasions — by urging SAG a year ago to start talks early and by coming out against a strike authorization in December.

SAG’s current deal expired nearly nine months ago, on June 30, when the AMPTP made its final offer to SAG. The two sides nearly reached a deal on Feb. 19, but those talks collapsed over the contract expiration date — with SAG pushing for a mid-2011 expiration in line with the terminations of the DGA, WGA and AFTRA deals while the AMPTP insisted on a full three-year term with a 2012 expiration.

SAG’s negotiating task force, installed by the moderate coalition that controls SAG’s national board, agreed to all other parts of the congloms’ “last, best, final” offer on Feb. 19.

Separately, SAG and AFTRA are set to return to the bargaining table today in New York to negotiate their commercials contract with the ad industry following a one-week recess. The unions, which face a March 31 expiration, haven’t commented on those negotiations since they launched on Feb. 23, but the lead negotiator for the industry has issued a note of “cautious optimism” about the progress of the talks.

“Contrary to reports, the talks are not at a standstill, nor are they contentious or nerve wracking,” said Douglas Wood in a statement issued Friday. “In truth, the two sides continue to strive for a solution and are working together to find common interests on which agreements can be made. And while there are certainly some sensitive issues… progress has been made every day we’ve met.”

Wood also said the two sides are discussing the models proposed in a joint study that explored the impact of new media and that negotiations are looking at more than 60 proposals.

“We’ve resolved many of them and are fast getting down to those that have the most economic impact,” he added. SAG and AFTRA struck against the ad industry for six months in 2000 in what was the longest strike in Hollywood history.

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