CONTRACT to be extended as Hollywood actors, producers adjourn negotiations - - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - |

CONTRACT to be extended as Hollywood actors, producers adjourn negotiations

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Hollywood actors adjourned negotiations three hours before their contract expired Saturday night, saying the old agreement would temporarily remain in effect and the talks would resume Sunday morning.

The Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists represent a total of 135,000 members. Their old contract originally was set to expire at 12:01 a.m. Sunday.

Negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents studios and networks, picked up speed under the deadline pressure after progressing slowly since the start of talks May 15.

Both sides said they remain committed to reaching a new contract that would avert a potentially crippling walkout for the TV and movie industry.

``There is definitely a sense of urgency on all sides,'' said Barry Liden, spokesman for the producers alliance. ``This is purely just an issue of scheduling. We all agreed it would be better to come back tomorrow morning.''

The early break from the bargaining session Saturday night should not be viewed as a sign the talks are collapsing, said Pamm Fair, spokeswoman for AFTRA.

``It's not a signal of any kind of impasse or breakdown whatsoever,'' she said. ``Basically, reasonable people are in the room and decided that going into the wee hours of the morning may not be as productive or desirable as coming back.''

Neither side has commented in detail about the status of negotiations.

Uncertainty over the negotiations had prompted studios to accelerate production. Even with an agreement, Hollywood could still grind to a halt because producers wouldn't start a new movie until an actors' deal was made final, and it takes nearly eight weeks to complete preproduction work.

Fall TV shows, which begin filming in the summer, also could be delayed for weeks.

Greg Krizman, spokesman for SAG, said a strike was not imminent. Even if talks broke down, he said, the guild would require a strike authorization vote from members before initiating a work stoppage.

That vote would take between four and five weeks to complete.

``We're here just to worry about tomorrow at this point,'' Krizman said.

Among the guilds' top concerns was increasing pay for the nearly 75,000 actors who earn between $30,000 and $70,000 annually.

Only about 2 percent of the guilds' membership earn more than $100,000 a year, including multimillion-dollar celebrities such as Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts and Harrison Ford.

Last year, the actors' unions staged a six-month strike by actors who make commercials. The walkout might have driven as much as $1 billion worth of work overseas.

Saturday's negotiations, held at Producers Alliance headquarters in Encino, remained relatively low-key throughout the day, attracting little of the media attention focused on the Writers Guild of America talks in May.

The Writers Guild of America settled its new contract in early June, increasing overall pay by more than $41 million over the previous agreement. After that, many analysts predicted the actors would accept a similar deal.

Negotiators for both sides have said that the writers' contract may serve as a template for a performers' settlement.
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