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How SAG and producers got to this point

A play-by-play of the major hits and misses in the last year and a half

Here are the key events leading up to the expected settlement between actors’ unions and studios and networks:

November 1999:Members of the Screen Actors Guild, in a stunning move, choose William Daniels as president over two-termer Richard Masur. Daniels promises SAG will bring a more militant stance to future negotiations.

February 2000:Negotiations begin in New York with the advertising industry. SAG and the American Federation of Radio & Television Artists label the ad industry’s proposal “a rollback.”

March 2000:Ninety-three percent of union members authorize what will be their first strike since 1988.

April 2000:SAG-AFTRA’s board votes 150-0 to strike against advertisers on May 1.

May 2000:SAG offers union membership to volunteers who perform 80 hours of work on the strike, a move that eventually gives SAG cards to more than 700 new members.

June 2000:Ad production on public property in Los Angeles County plummets 47%; Daniels insists that a strike in 2001 against producers is not inevitable and accuses the Hollywood studios of “strike-mongering.”

July:Former SAG prexy Charlton Heston pickets at a McDonald’s over the fast-food chain’s non-union ads; after two days of limited bargaining, negotiations break off amid bitter recriminations.

Aug. 4:Alison Janney of “The West Wing” makes a statement of support for the strike upon accepting the show’s Family Programming Award from advertisers. Her remark is edited from the telecast, prompting exec producer and Writers Guild of America West president John Wells to return the award because of “censorship.”

Sept. 1:Daniels warns members that the ad industry is trying to bust SAG and calls the strike “the most difficult challenge” it has ever faced.

Sept. 11:Kevin Spacey gives $100,000 to strike relief fund, leading to similar donations from Harrison Ford, Helen Hunt, Eddie Murphy and Bruce Willis and $200,000 from Nicolas Cage.

Sept. 27:Negotiations fall apart over Internet jurisdiction and rates for cable buyouts.

Oct. 2:The commercials strike becomes longest in Hollywood history, eclipsing the 1988 writers strike.

Oct. 22:Strike ends.

Oct. 30:Studios and networks offer to start early talks with the WGA, which faces a May 2 film-TV contract expiration, and SAG-AFTRA, which faces a June 30 deadline. WGA West prexy Wells says informal talks so far have not included a “serious” offer.

Dec. 4:SAG-AFTRA reps meet informally with studio and network producers and say their talks will focus on middle-class actors.

Jan. 3:Studio CEOs claim the WGA is seeking hikes that will trigger a $2.4 billion increase for all entertainment unions over three years; the WGA says the correct figure is $725 million.

Jan. 22:Talks start with a news blackout after Wells says the two-week deadline could be dropped if there is progress.

Feb. 16:IATSE president Thomas Short criticizes the WGA’s creative rights proposals.

Feb. 22:SAG names former WGA exec director Brian Walton as chief negotiator, a sign that the guild is taking a moderate approach.

March 1:WGA talks collapse, with a $100 million gap in last offers; WGA cites need to get member feedback.

March 6:WGA West town hall meeting draws 700 members, who express strong support for Wells. It is the first of 30 such meetings.

March 22:DreamWorks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg says WGA proposals would trigger $1.6 billion in cost increases overall and “bankrupt” studios; he also calls the idea of meeting halfway in the $100 million gap “a nonstarter.”

April 5:WGA denies rumors of a back-channel deal; talks resume 12 days later.

April 16:Walton says a SAG strike is “a last resort.”

April 20:L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan claims a five-month WGA strike and three-month SAG strike would create losses of $6.9 billion and 82,000 jobs for the local economy.

May 4:WGA settles for a $41 million, three-year deal.

May 14:Walton says middle-class actors are vanishing and chides studios for runaway production.

May 15:SAG-AFTRA begins negotiations amid a news blackout; execs who see the initial proposal are stunned by its aggressiveness.

May 19:SAG-AFTRA holds a town hall meeting in West Los Angeles that attracts fewer than 100 members.

May 24:Negotiators meet only four times in the first two weeks of negotiations, then break for 12 days before meeting face-to-face again.

May 31:Daniels says he has not yet decided if he’ll seek a second term.

June 4:Writers approve their deal with a 92% endorsement.

June 6:Business in Hollywood has ground to a near-halt due to the ongoing uncertainty over the SAG talks.

June 18:SAG admits it has no plans to seek a strike authorization and notes it would need a month to get one if talks collapsed.

June 22:IATSE’s Short says the slowdown has caused employment to drop by 50% at some union locals. Negotiators meet in the evening for the first time, followed by the first weekend meetings.

June 25:SAG taps veteran exec John Cooke as CEO; he attends talks two days later.

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