The never-ending battle between SAG president Alan Rosenberg and his own organization has forced him to file an injunction against his own task force from starting their negotiations.
That means, in a weird, sordid, round-about way, Rosenberg is now fighting an uphill battle with himself. It's a wonder the actors didn't elect Britney Spears to run their union.
There's good news and bad news coming from the on-going talks between the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). The bad news is that there has been very little progress in talks between SAG and the studios concerning a new contract.
With their current contract expiring on June 30th, SAG members are looking for higher pay for "middle-tier" actors, those making less than $100,000 a year, and a greater cut of profits from DVD and new media sales -- a main sticking point during this past winter's Writers Guild strike. In addition to those woes, there are bitter splits taking place between SAG members and those of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) after the smaller union ratified an agreement with the studios.The good news, at least for film and television viewers, is that SAG has no immediate plans to strike.
In an attempt to avoid a situation like the industry-wide mess that was the writers' strike, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) have reached a deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. The tentative deal was completed on Wednesday and capped 17 days of negotiation.
Mind you, this is only half the battle for the AMPTP. They still have to reach a deal with the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) before their contract expires. Both the SAG and AFTRA contracts are set to expire on June 30th.
Raise your hand if you saw this one coming. The prospects for another strike went up as negotiations with the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) once again broke down, with the AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers) moving to negotiations with AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists). Among the issues causing the split, and stop me if you've heard this one before, DVD residuals, streaming, and new media. Go figure. One new wrinkle in these negotiations comes in the form of an AMPTP provision that would give them free and unlimited use of short clips of an actor's work in movies and television.
All these writers still have "financial core" status in which they pay union dues and are still represented by the Guild. They can't, however, participate in guild elections (either with votes or holding an office) or union activities.
The Association of Motion Picture and Television denounced this move accusing the WGA of violating labor law by "seeking to deny employment to these writers in the future."
While the strike is ended per union leaders, writers won't return to work until the membership itself has had a chance to vote on the new deal. They are expected to vote "yes" on Tuesday and be back to work by Wednesday. The timing of this resolution means that some of this season can yet be salvaged and there's still time for pilot production for new series next year. For details on how this will affect your favorite shows, Keep up to date with Mike Ausiello's nearly comprehensive list of when your shows will return. And now things can get back to normal, and we can all go back to needlessly hating on According to Jim, the way God intended.
And that might be a problem. According to Nikki Finke, she's hearing that the rank-and-file members of the guild have been expressing displeasure at the terms of the contract in today's meetings, with the feeling that the union leadership is "ramming this deal down our throats," as one of her sources told her.
According to the article, television producers have made February 15th the de facto deadline for putting the writers back and salvaging what's left of this television season. For movie studios, the deadline is seen as early March to prevent major disruption with the 2009 movie release schedule.
With Lionsgate reaching a deal with the writers, it wouldn't be surprising if more studios made agreements with them so as to compete. This could lead to a more rapid end to the strike, which would make me much happier.
Yesterday we talked about how the WGA and studios were going to enter informal talks today, and it looks like those talks have actually made some news.
The WGA announced just a short time ago that they have dropped one of their main demands, that reality and animation writers be unionized. The union members say that they are going to try other ways to organize writers that work on animation shows and reality shows.
The Writers Guild of America is going to hold an informal meeting with studios this week in what looks like a first step in getting back to the bargaining table with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (I'm sure that the deal the Director's Guild of America made on Thursday is what generated these talks.)
The proof of this lies with the rapidity of the DGA agreement with regards to similar terms. Now there is pressure on the WGA to ratify the agreement as-is. I suppose if the WGA agreement is done soon,
The new contract does include a residual payment formula for new media including the Internet. Both the DGA and the AMPTP seem satisfied with the arrangement, based on statements by both sides.
The Golden Globes (airing January 13) and Oscars (February 24) sought waivers to allow union writers to help put together their awards shows, but Reuters tells us that the WGA says it will deny those waivers. Show organizers say they will go on regardless. As for what to do for scribes, Leslie Unger, spokeswoman for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, said "There are any number of possible options we might explore" regarding what the Oscars intend.
One possibility is to hire non-union writers. How pissed would the WGA be if the reviews were great, the jokes actually funny and the telecast considered to be the best Academy Awards show ever! Another possibility, and I have no idea why this hasn't been explored seriously already, is the Family Guy manatee writers. South Park showed how prolific they were, and there are simply tons of lame award show jokes that could be written on balls and thrown in the tank. Or do you think they're members of the union, too?
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