Page last updated at 09:54 GMT, Sunday, 30 March 2008 10:54 UK

US TV and film actors sever ties

Hollywood writers and actors on the picket line earlier this year
Members of the actors' unions joined writers on the picket line earlier this year

Unions representing TV and film actors in the US have abandoned their plans to work together in forthcoming contract negotiations with Hollywood studios.

The two groups were due to agree a start date for negotiations on Saturday but the TV union instead voted to sever ties with the Screen Actors Guild.

The move comes just three months before Hollywood's contract with the stars of film and prime-time TV expires.

Several A-list stars have appealed for an early start to negotiations.

Tom Hanks, George Clooney, Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro took out adverts in US trade papers last month urging leaders to begin contact talks as soon as possible.

It is feared that a delay could lead to a walk-out similar to the writers' strike, which crippled film and TV production earlier this year.

'Calculated and cynical'

In a statement, the board of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) accused the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) of sabotage.

It referred in particular to a recent dispute over which union represented the stars of daytime soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful.

"For the past year SAG leadership in Hollywood has engaged in a relentless campaign of disinformation and disparagement," wrote president Roberta Reardon.

In response, SAG president Alan Rosenberg wrote that the television guild's "refusal now to bargain together with us and their last-second abandonment of the joint process is calculated [and] cynical".

"It may serve the interests of their institution, but not its members," he added.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the film and TV studios, said on Saturday that they look forward to bargaining with AFTRA in a statement that made no direct mention of SAG.

"We are pleased to learn that AFTRA is ready to begin talks immediately," it said.

"We are determined, as we have always been, to work hard and bargain reasonably with the actors' unions so that we can all avoid another harmful, unnecessary strike."

The body emphasised that it had contacted the actors' unions seven weeks ago to say it was ready to begin negotiations.

Studios start actors' talks early
13 Mar 08 |  Entertainment
Actors urge talks to avert strike
14 Feb 08 |  Entertainment
Film directors agree studio deal
17 Jan 08 |  Entertainment
Studios 'cut contracts' in strike
15 Jan 08 |  Entertainment

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