Thesp unions OK deal

SAG, AFTRA vote 97% for film-TV pact

HOLLYWOOD — The curtain has come down anticlimactically on this year’s Hollywood labor wars, with members of the two major actors unions giving the new film-TV deal a 97% endorsement.

The contract, which is retroactive to July 1 and runs through June 30, 2004, received 36,876 yes votes and 1,232 no votes, with 55 ballots declared invalid. The voting represented 30% of the 130,292 ballots mailed out three weeks ago to paid-up members of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists, far above the 22% participation level in 1998.

“We are delighted the SAG and AFTRA members recognized the many key improvements in this package, which will undoubtedly put more money in the pockets of middle-class members,” SAG spokesman Greg Krizman said.

Hollywood had been fearful of possible back-to-back strikes by writers and actors, but those concerns for the most part evaporated following the announcement of a Writers Guild deal in early May.

Approval slam dunk

SAG-AFTRA voting ended Friday, but approval had been expected as scant opposition emerged following the July 3 announcement of a tentative pact.

Key gains for actors include the following:

  • Minimums rise 3% in the first two years and 3.5% in the third.

  • Fox Network residuals rise to 80% of the level for the Big Three in the first year, 90% in the second and 100% in the third.

  • Foreign TV residuals are uncapped when sales thresholds are met.

  • Pension and health contributions are increased to 13.5% in the first two years before declining to 13%.

  • Basic cable residuals rise 13% through a revamp of P&H contributions.

  • P&H coverage begins on Internet work.

  • Movies-on-demand residuals will be paid using the pay TV formula.

  • Gains in fees are realized for stunt coordinators and guest stars.

  • Buyout fees for movies will rise.

SAG has not valued out the contract (under the old agreement, members’ reported earnings totaled $1.04 billion last year), but Krizman said the increase will be at least $123 million, or three times the WGA’s increase. “With any type of improvement in the entertainment economy, we’ll surpass that figure,” he added.

SAG prexy William Daniels, citing gains in guest star fees, Fox and cable residuals, said in a message to members, “I can happily say that my principal promise of putting more money into your pockets has come about.”

The next major negotiation will be AFTRA’s network code contract, which is the org’s largest and covers all work done except for primetime on ABC, NBC and CBS. The current pact expires Nov. 15, with negotiations due to start Oct. 16.

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