Studios meet with federal mediator on actor contract talks
Studio executives met Thursday afternoon with a federal mediator attempting against the odds to end the deadlock in contract talks with actors.
As a first step, the mediator, Juan Carlos Gonzalez, huddled last week with SAG President Alan Rosenberg and Executive Director Doug Allen. The two union leaders, who previously looked askance at the idea of enlisting the help of a mediator, laid out the union's priorities, especially securing the union's contracts for all Web shows, which the studios have stated is a deal breaker.
On Thursday, it was the studios' turn to bend Gonzalez's ear. During a three-hour meeting at the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers' headquarters in Sherman Oaks, studio representatives presented details of the studios' "final offer" to SAG, and gave background information on agreements with three other unions that served as a basis for it. In a statement, the AMPTP said: "The federal mediator indicated that he will advise the parties as to the next step in the process."
People close to the talks expect Gonzalez will convene a meeting between the SAG and the studios to at least get the sides talking again -- which would be an achievement in itself, given that they haven't met since early July. Whether the talks will move the sides closer to a contract, or merely be an exercise in futility, is anyone's guess. For now, there are no signs of significant compromise in either camp. In fact, involving a mediator might just be the only thing they can agree on.
-- Richard Verrier