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SAG seeks to reopen talks, on day stock market plummets

September 29, 2008 |  3:33 pm

UPDATE: The studios late Monday finally responded. In a statement, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, rebuffed the offer. "We do not believe it would be productive to resume negotiations at this time given SAG's continued insistence in terms which the companies have repeatedly rejected."

Screen Actors Guild to the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers: Let's talk

In an effort to jump-start stalled contract negotiations with the studios, SAG President Alan Rosenberg and Executive Director Doug Allen called on News Corp. President Peter Chernin and Walt Disney Co. President Bob Iger to revive formal bargaining.

It came on the same day that the stock market plummeted as the House of Representatives turned down the Bush administration's Wall Street bailout plan.

In their letter, which was also addressed to the studios' chief negotiator, J. Nicholas Counter III, the union leaders said it was futile to send the studios' "final offer" to members, and they alluded to a poll in which fewer than 10,000 members urged their leaders to reject the proposed contract and instead "fight" for a better deal.Ctlogo_2   

"It is our fervent hope that this news will encourage you and your colleagues to reengage in formal bargaining, with the exchange of proposals and compromise by both sides necessary to reach agreement."

They added: "We owe it to our constituencies and the thousands of others in this industry that depend on a productive, stable and uninterrupted relationship between the Screen Actors Guild and the networks and the studios. ... What do you say; when can our committees meet face-to-face?"

Actors have been without a contract since June 30. The two sides are sharply at odds over how actors are paid when their work is distributed over the Internet.

Although expressing a willingness to compromise, the SAG leaders also warned that "if your intransigence continues, however, our choices become harder and fewer."

There was no immediate response from the studio executives or the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.  Don't hold your breath. The AMPTP dismissed results of SAG's recent poll as unrepresentative because of the low response rate, and it has also accused guild leaders of misleading their members into thinking they were engaged in informal negotiations with the studios. The studios have shown little willingness to improve on a contract modeled on a similar deals already negotiated by writers, directors and the smaller actors union, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.