SAG continues to grant waivers

Over 100 projects have completion contracts

With SAG’s contract stalemate continuing, the Screen Actors Guild has granted more than 100 waivers to indie feature films over the past month, pushing the total to 620.

The waivers have kept a modicum of feature production going. Studios have mostly stopped shooting features since SAG’s contract expired on June 30 due to the uncertainty over whether the guild will be able to hammer out a new deal.

The waivers — or “guaranteed completion contracts” — have been given to producers unaffiliated with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers. The waivers call for a production company to adhere to whatever terms SAG negotiates in its new deal with the AMPTP.

SAG hasn’t publicized which producers have signed guaranteed completion contracts. Some of the more notable indie projects that have signed on include “Edge of Darkness,” directed by Martin Campbell and starring Mel Gibson; Oliver Stone’s George W. Bush drama “W,” starring Josh Brolin and Elizabeth Banks; “My One and Only,” starring Renee Zellweger and Chris Noth; “Big Eyes,” with Kate Hudson and Thomas Haden Church; “Bad Lieutenant,” starring Nicolas Cage; “Labor Pains,” starring Lindsay Lohan; and “Brooklyn’s Finest,” with Richard Gere, Ethan Hawke and Don Cheadle.

In the meantime, there’s a growing consensus that the guild and the majors are nowhere near closing a deal. The AMPTP insists it’s not revising its offer, and SAG’s leaders have said that the final offer’s unacceptable, so the guild’s unlikely to change its position, at least until it completes its mid-September board elections — which will serve as a referendum on how SAG’s ruling Membership First party has handled the negotiations.

SAG hasn’t scheduled a strike authorization and probably won’t due to the difficulty of obtaining 75% approval among those voting — particularly given that SAG was unable to persuade AFTRA members to vote down the latter’s primetime deal.

Disney chief exec Robert Iger noted Wednesday that he believes that a strike’s unlikely. In a conference call with analysts to discuss the Mouse House quarterly earnings, he said the SAG-AMPTP stalemate “is not having a particularly damaging impact on our business because we have decided to move forward with a number of our productions and address any issues later as they arise.”

He added that concessions to SAG are highly unlikely given that the Writers Guild of America, Directors Guild of America and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists all signed off on new-media provisions that SAG’s continued to reject.

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