Inside Move: Actors playing the heavy

Thesps set bar high in preliminary talks

It’s hardly been a boffo launch for film-TV contract talks between actors and studios.

Negotiators met only four times in two weeks — and only in the afternoons — before taking a six-day break until May 30.

Many in Hollywood hoped negotiators could use the momentum of the May 4 Writers Guild pact to reach an agreement well before the June 30 deadline. But the leisurely pace of talks so far suggests that actors will go down to the wire.

Early indications are that the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists want to play hardball.

Their initial proposal came in far above the expected $120 million ceiling, stunning studio execs who believe a deal is achievable for two to three times the WGA’s $41 million hike.

Union sources say negotiators have felt pressure to avoid a quick deal.

“They do not want to look as if they are merely rubber-stamping the WGA deal,” an insider says.

However, two signs emerged last week that SAG was moving toward moderation: Negotiators were on the verge of offering waiver deals to let independent producers start movies after June 30 even if there is a strike; and SAG granted “extension” agreements to several projects already in production that will allow members to keep working if there is a strike.

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