SAG mum on scribes

Actors play wait-and-see as own deadline nears

The Screen Actors Guild has muzzled itself during the latest round of intensive writers negotiations, even with its own TV-film contract talks tentatively slated to start next week.

“We will have no comment until the Writers Guild of America negotiations conclude,” a spokeswoman said Thursday.

Reps of SAG and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists have attended every WGA negotiating session since talks began in January.

SAG’s silence also means a continued no comment on a pair of unsettled questions for its negotiating team from producers, studios and publicists — whether the guild will grant strike waivers to low-budget films, and whether guild members will still be allowed to engage in publicity and promotion work if a strike is called after the June 30 contract expiration.

SAG has received hundreds of waiver requests, and guild prexy William Daniels, who has a seat on the negotiating committee, has declared he favors granting waivers on a case-by-case basis.

June junkets

Publicists have been scrambling to schedule movie junkets prior to July in case the guild decides, as it did during its 1980 strike, that publicity and promotion will be off-limits without a new contract.

SAG and AFTRA will negotiate jointly on replacing the current pact, which covers film and primetime TV. Leaders of the union unanimously approved the initial contract proposal last week calling for hikes in salary minimums and residual formulas.

Tentative start date for negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers is Thursday, assuming the WGA talks have concluded at that point. Hollywood remains frightened that the actors will strike if the WGA has not reached a tentative deal by June 30, although chief SAG negotiator Brian Walton recently chastised the news media for fanning such speculation and declared that a work stoppage would only be a “last resort” (Daily Variety, April 16).

The unions have not released any details of the proposal except to describe it as “one of the most streamlined and focused in the history of these negotiations.” Members of the joint negotiating committee have been instructed to not discuss the talks with the news media.

Unlike the writers negotiations, which have been held at WGA West headquarters in Hollywood, the SAG/AFTRA talks will take place at AMPTP’s Encino offices.

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