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ABC's entertainment reporter Jovana Lara
"The settlement.. may defuse the possibility of the actors strike later this summer"
 real 56k

Sunday, 6 May, 2001, 12:32 GMT 13:32 UK
Hollywood looks to actors' unions
Dream Works co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, left, Walt Disney Company President and C.O.O. Robert Iger and, Alan Horn, President and COO of Warner Bros
Studio heads, including Jeffrey Katzenberg (left), joined talks
Hollywood film and TV producers will turn their attentions to actors' unions after agreeing a deal with writers during marathon strike talks.

The actors are likely to take the writers' deal as a blueprint for their own negotiations - but Hollywood will be keen to avoid a repeat of the actors' strike against advertisers last year.

An actor picketing the premiere of Liz Hurley's Bedazzled
Liz Hurley angered actors during last year's strike
Months of talks between writers and producers ended on Friday with a deal meaning studios and networks will give writers a $41m increase over three years.

The Writers' Guild of America (WGA)'s 11,500 members still have to approve the deal, but negotiators said they would recommend that all members vote in favour of it.

The actors' contracts are due to run out on 1 July, with talks to start on 10 May.

Like the writers, their gripes centre around payment.

They want more money for repeats on satellite and cable TV, foreign channels and on new formats and technologies.

Last year, members of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Association of Television and Radio Actors (AFTRA) walked out for six months in a dispute with advertisers.

'Best package'

Any new strike could be as damaging as the one threatened by the writers - although the industry hopes that now a deal with the WGA has been reached, it will be easier to reach an agreement with actors.

Writers' negotiator Mike Mahern said theirs was the best economic package the WGA had negotiated for its members since 1977.

AMTP president Nick Counter
AMTP's Nick Counter announces the deal
"This is one of the most difficult negotiations we have had in many years," Nicholas Counter for the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) told a Los Angeles news conference.

Writers were also pushing for greater creative control over the end-product and more respect in the production process.

Benefits

They will now have the right to meet and talk with a director before a film or TV show is produced.

The deal also ranks Fox TV as a fully-fledged network like ABC, CBS and NBC, which means it will pay more money to writers when repeats are shown on Fox.

But the two sides failed to agree on emerging markets, such as downloading movies over the internet, so talks on these new areas will continue.

The deal comes after the deadline for meeting a resolution passed on 1 May. Since then, a news blackout has made it difficult to gauge the progress of the negotiations.

Fears

The guild allowed writers to carry on working while talks continued.

Although fears of a walkout rattled the entertainment industry for months, the guild never called for a strike authorisation vote from members.

Back-to-back walkouts by both writers and actors could have cost the local economy nearly $6.9bn in lost revenue.

Some 185,000 people - around 5% of the workforce - earn their livelihoods directly from Los Angeles' entertainment industry.

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See also:

04 May 01 | Film
UK actors threaten walk out
04 May 01 | Film
No end to strike talks
02 May 01 | Film
Scriptwriters seek 'respect'
30 Apr 01 | Film
Reality TV in the wings
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