Negotiators for actors and studios resume film-TV contract talks today after a five-day recess and less than six weeks before the June 30 contract expiration.
Despite the looming deadline, Hollywood remains cautiously optimistic over prospects for a deal without a strike, mostly because of the industry’s recent pact with the Writers Guild of America. But studios have not completely broken free of worry about a work stoppage, continuing to hold off scheduling publicity and promo tours after June.
Earlier this year, studios scrambled to jam junkets into what was presumably the pre-strike period in May and June out of fear that the Screen Actors Guild might bar stars from promoting their summer films. The thinking was that SAG, which showed surprising militancy in last year’s strike against advertisers, would follow the writers out on strike and craft a broad strike in order to build pressure on studios to settle quickly.
SAG’s negotiating committee has remained mum on whether it will allow members to continue promo and publicity for features if the union goes on strike after June 30. That stance has left publicists with no option but to continue opting out of July junkets for late-summer releases.
“We are going to complete the work we planned in June,” Par spokeswoman Nancy Kirkpatrick said. “If we get lucky and we can schedule in July, then that’s bonus points for us.”
Sony rep Susan Tick said the studio has no plans to push back the June junkets for its July releases “Final Fantasy” and “America’s Sweethearts.” “We’re pretty much sticking with what we’ve got.”.
Still, some optimism has seeped into the planning process. Publicists have been checking with talent reps to see if they might be able to shift promo dates back to July should SAG negotiators either reach a deal soon or declare that there will be no ban on promo work after June 30.
“The feeling is that SAG will make a deal, so we’re making backup plans,” one said. “But nothing is set in stone.”
SAG could conceivably face a legal challenge if it banned promo work; a studio could argue that such work cannot be covered by a strike order since performers already have been paid for the work. During its last strike against studios in 1980, SAG ordered its members to refrain from promo activity during the three-month work stoppage.
As for current negotiations, reps for both sides continued to observe the news blackout, saying only that the recess was due to negotiators needing more time to study proposals and attend to other business. Neither side has revealed any details about its proposals.