Strike talks head into weekend

9th day of meetings longest since stoppage began

Negotiators for striking actors and advertisers have agreed to continue talks Saturday to hammer out a settlement in the five-month work stoppage, marking the first time that the bargaining has carried over into a weekend.

The move, which sets up a ninth day of talks in the current round, follows seven hours of meetings Friday in New York. Negotiators adhered to the mediator-imposed gag order and making no official comment during the current round of talks, which began Sept. 13.

However, the decision to carry on the talks for a sixth consecutive day indicates that negotiators may be close to reaching a tentative agreement. However, sources close to the talks have warned that the situation remains volatile with no certainty that a final deal will be reached.

Rumors have spread this week that both sides are on the verge of reaching a deal, but negotiations still could collapse over complex issues such as residuals for network TV ads and cable ads and Internet jurisdiction. Leaders of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists have promised they will ramp up protests, including a boycott of Procter & Gamble, if no settlement emerges from this round of talks.

Activists continued to picket outside the site of the negotiations at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Thespians attending included Richard Dreyfuss, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Rob Morrow.

Strikers also continued to hit corporate targets over their use of non-union ads. Demonstrators picketed the General Motors’ Orion assembly plant in Michigan, a company-owned McDonald’s and an AT&T Broadband office in Hollywood.

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