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SAG to rap over residuals

Neither contract has been revised since 1992

In its first contract talks since control of its boardroom shifted to a more assertive faction, the Screen Actors Guild will begin bargaining next week in Los Angeles with cable nets over animated residual rates.

SAG will also start talks on Jan. 30 on basic made-for-cable residuals.

Neither contract has been revised since 1992, meaning that performers receive 12% of the current minimum of $716 for the first rerun down to 1% for the 13th rerun and beyond.

SAG has tried unsuccessfully over the past decade to fold in the three-page residuals pact with the overall film-TV contract. Its leaders contend that the residual structure needs to reflect the steady growth of basic cable’s revenues — up from $2.2 billion in 1992 to $10.9 billion last year — and audience.

“This isn’t a question of our being aggressive or militant or strident,” SAG president Alan Rosenberg noted. “It’s a question of what’s fair. SAG working actors aren’t making enough money to pay their mortgages or send their kids to school under these contracts.”

Rosenberg, who won the SAG presidency on a platform of more assertive bargaining, asserted that the residual rates are out of kilter with the SAG network rates under which performers receive 100% for the first rerun up to $3,200. He also notes that the DGA and WGA residual rates for basic made-for-cable are significantly higher than SAG’s, starting at 17% of minimum.

Rosenberg’s the negotiating chair on live-action programs, which include “Monk,” “Strong Medicine,” “The Closer,” “The Shield,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “Wildfire” and “Nip/Tuck.” Loren Lester will chair the talks on animated programs, which include “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “The Boondocks,” “American Dragon,” “Camp Lazlo,” “Drawn Together,” “Squirrel Boy” and “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.”

Sallie Weaver, SAG deputy national exec director for contracts, will be the lead negotiator for both contracts. She said guild staff is frustrated by companies not providing SAG with breakdowns of how much actors are paid on made-for-cable residuals.

SAG wasn’t able to achieve a breakthrough on the key revenue issue of DVD residuals at last year’s negotiations on its film-TV contract. Companies resisted changing the structure, insisting that the shifting economics of show business made DVD revenues essential to staying in the black.

Both contracts expire Feb. 28 but can be extended. Companies are bargaining individually rather than through the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

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