Tentative agreement may come next week

The Screen Actors Guild has passed the one-year anniversary of the start of its feature-primetime contract negotiations — without a deal in place, though one’s expected soon.

Announcement of a tentative agreement may come as early as this weekend with SAG’s national board meeting in a two-day session. SAG toppers and CEOs have been holding back-channel talks to sort out the remaining issues of when the contract will expire (SAG’s insisted on a June 2011 expiration) and how much actors will receive in force majeure payments for TV series that went dark during the 2007-08 writers strike.

SAG and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers had no comment Thursday and haven’t met officially since Feb. 19. Should the board approve the deal, it could be sent to members and ratified before the end of May — nearly a year after the previous contract expired.

About 75 opponents of the deal rallied Thursday outside AMPTP headquarters in Sherman Oaks, asserting they’ll oppose the deal as falling short in a wide variety of areas, particularly in the new-media language. Attendees included David Jolliffe, head of the SAG negotiating committee that was abolished in January when the board’s moderate majority fired Doug Allen as SAG topper for allegedly botching the negotiations.

SAG member Michelle Simmons carried an effigy of an actor at the event to symbolize what she sees as the death of the profession should the terms be approved. “I’m hoping that one of the CEOs sees this and thinks, Dear God, let’s give them what they’re asking for,” she added.

That’s unlikely to occur. The AMPTP’s counter on its website asserted Thursday that SAG actors have lost $66.6 million in pay gains as a result of spurning the final offer.

SAG’s feature-primetime contract expired on June 30 with the guild spurning the AMPTP’s offer, estimated by the companies as being worth an additional $250 million in pay over three years. SAG members have worked since then under terms and conditions of the expired deal.

SAG and AFTRA leaders will also meet Saturday on approving the recently announced tentative deal on the commercials contract. That three-year agreement is expected to receive unanimous backing and will be sent to members for ratification.

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