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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 February 2008, 10:01 GMT
Actors urge talks to avert strike
George Clooney at United Nations in 2006
Last week, George Clooney warned of "strike fatigue" in Hollywood
Four of Hollywood's biggest stars have taken out adverts in US trade papers urging their leaders to start contract talks in a bid to avert a strike.

Tom Hanks, George Clooney, Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro want the Screen Actors Guild to negotiate with studios over a contract which ends on 30 June.

Their call comes as US writers begin to return to work after they voted to end a three-month strike.

Networks have started to announce the return of shows halted by the strike.

Strong support

The adverts, placed in Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, appeal with leaders of the 120,000-strong Screen Actors Guild (SAG) to begin talks over a new contract.

On Wednesday, SAG national executive director Doug Allen said the union would open negotiations over pay and conditions "at a time that will most benefit our members".

Striking writers picket in Hollywood
The Oscars, which were threatened by the strike, will now go ahead

Last week, Clooney warned SAG leaders their negotiating power would diminish if they waited before starting talks with producers, because of "a lot of strike fatigue".

The actors' union offered strong support to the Writers Guild of America (WGA) in its strike over work distributed on DVD or over the internet.

TV and film writers are now returning to work after the WGA's back-to-work order was approved by 92.5% of the 3,775 members who voted on the deal struck by leaders at the weekend.

But it will take weeks for the TV industry, in particular, to mobilise while new material is prepared.

Network CBS has announced that a number of its most popular dramas, including Cold Case, Criminal Minds and Without a Trace, will be back on air by early April.

And ABC's courtroom drama Boston Legal will be back in front of cameras as soon as next week because the script was already half-finished when the strike began in November.

Long wait

The current US TV season runs out in late May.

Viewers will have to wait longer for shows with continuing storylines than those with self-contained episodes with many networks choosing to wait until they can show seasons in their entirety.
Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer
Fans of 24 will have to wait until 2009 for new episodes

NBC's superhero series Heroes is expected to stay off air in the US until autumn for that reason.

Fox thriller 24, starring Kiefer Sutherland as agent Jack Bauer, is now scheduled to begin in January 2009 so that all 24 episodes can be shown in full.

Films have not been as severely affected because they have longer production times.

Some 10,500 writers stopped work on 5 November, a few days after their old contract with studios ended.

Sunday's deal gives them a greater share in money made from TV programmes and films offered over the internet and other new media.

TV and film production was crippled by the strike and it led to the cancellation of the Golden Globes ceremony.

The Academy Awards, which were also threatened, will now go ahead.

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