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Counter to retire

February 27, 2009 | 11:13 am

Nick Counter

Nick Counter, the veteran labor negotiator for the major studios, is retiring after a tenure spanning more than two decades.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers said today that Counter would retire, as expected, when his five-year contract expires March 31.

After his retirement, Counter will serve as a consultant to the AMPTP on all labor matters including the Screen Actors Guild negotiations, the group said. Talks recently broke off when the union rejected the studios' final offer. Actors have been without a contract since June 30.

For much of his tenure, Counter presided over relative labor peace until last year, when Hollywood's writers went on strike for 100 days. Over the years he was praised by his colleagues for giving the often-fractious alliance a unified voice.  At the same time, he was vilified by many rank-and-file union members, especially during the writers strike, when he was portrayed as an uncompromising old-school negotiator.

Counter has served as AMPTP president for 27 years and was the chief negotiator for 311 major labor pacts, including six in 2008 with the Directors Guild of America, Writers Guild of America, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, casting directors and International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.

Counter's current contract was renegotiated in 2004 for an additional five years, plus five years as a consultant to the AMPTP upon retirement.

The alliance said it was searching for Counter's successor. One possible candidate is Carol Lombardini, AMPTP's executive vice president of business & legal affairs, who will serve as acting president of the  alliance.

-- Richard Verrier

Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times