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Monday, 2 July, 2001, 08:28 GMT 09:28 UK
Hollywood strike talks extended
Barry Liden, left, of the AMPTP, Pamm Fair of SAG and Greg Krizman of AFTRA
Union leaders and producers continue discussions
Strike talks between America's largest actors' unions and Hollywood film and television producers will continue on Monday after a deadline for a new actors' contract passed.

Studio bosses and representatives of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) are still trying to hammer out a deal despite missing the deadline on Saturday.

The talks, begun on 15 May under a strict media blackout, are believed to be over residual or repeats payments for the unions' 135,000 members. The unions have threatened to strike, if a satisfactory deal is not struck.

Talks on Sunday continued for 14 hours before negotiators decided to temporarily halt the bargaining.

AFTRA spokeswoman Pamm Fair said late Sunday that the lengthy negotiations signalled that progress was being made.

"The fact that we're still here indicates there's a reason to still be here," she said before talks concluded.

Motion picture alliance spokesman Barry Liden said: "We all want to get a deal as soon as we possibly can."

'Working'

Sources from both sides told trade newspaper Variety that a tentative deal had been agreed almost in full and there was little likelihood of the unions' members being asked to back industrial action.

"We're all working," said Screen Actors Guild spokesman Greg Krizman on Sunday as the sides returned to the negotiating table at the headquarters of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

A precedent for the success of extended contract talks was recently set by the Writers Guild of America.

Its threatened strike action against the studios, similarly over residuals, was quashed when a deal was struck three days beyond the 1 May deadline.

Writers Guild representative
Writers finally struck a deal with studios

Negotiators for the actors unions and the AMPTP have stepped up the momentum of their discussions since 21 June.

The two teams have negotiated late into the evening every day for the past week.

At the centre of the discussions are thought to be three main issues.

The actors are thought to be looking for more money for work that is repeated or re-sold, appears on the internet or is shown on interactive TV services.

Substantial increases for work shown on basic cable and abroad are also being sought.

The unions also want Fox TV to be ranked 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 they backed down on demands concerning work put out on video and DVD.

Ballot

Even if talks break down between the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, no strike was imminent, Krizman said.

Before beginning a walkout, the guild would need to ballot members, which could take four or five weeks.

Before negotiations started, SAG negotiators said they would be fighting for the majority of its members who struggle to earn a decent living.

At least half its members were out of work in any given year, he said.

The SAG does not want a repeat of last year's strike
The SAG does not want a repeat of last year's strike

About half earn between $30,000 (21,000) and $70,000 (49,000) per year and rely on residual payments from TV and movie repeats.

Analysts say actors want to avoid a repeat of last year's six-month walkout against advertisers over repeat fees.

It was one of the longest strikes in Hollywood history, and centred on "pay-for-play" residuals - the extra money paid to actors each time their commercial is broadcast.

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