Page last updated at 13:26 GMT, Friday, 30 January 2009

Actors back in talks with studios

Doug Allen and Alan Rosenberg
Doug Allen (left) has been removed from the negotiating process

The Screen Actors Guild is to restart discussions with Hollywood studios to try to end a dispute over actors' pay.

Tuesday's talks will try to resolve how much actors should benefit from new media, in particular work distributed via the internet.

The threat of strike action has been hanging over Hollywood since the last contract with SAG ran out in June 2008.

But the guild has now fired its chief negotiator, Doug Allen, who was seen as a hardliner.

Forced out

Just a few hours after the glitzy Screen Actors Guild awards ceremony on Sunday, the moderate majority of SAG's board members delivered a written resolution to get rid of Allen.

Allen favoured asking SAG's 120,000 members if they were happy with what was currently on offer from the studios or if they would prefer to strike.

With last year's 100 day-long writers' strike still fresh in Hollywood's memory, TV and film studios are keen to avoid further action.

At least 75% of SAG's membership would have had to vote for a strike to make it happen, so it was always unlikely. With new talks it look even less of a possibility.

Singing the blues

The president of SAG, Alan Rosenberg, has been so frustrated by the stalemate that he has penned a blues song about the negotiations and taken to performing it for interviewers.

In an interview with online magazine TheWrap, Rosenberg said that "actors are frightened little children" and he would keep fighting for a bigger slice of the pie on their behalf.

However, Allen's departure leaves Rosenberg increasingly isolated in calling for action. John McGuire, who has been negotiating for SAG for 40 years will replace Allen at Tuesday's talks.

The discussions will take place at the Californian headquarters of The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the big studios.

Both sides confirmed that two days of talks are scheduled to begin on February 3 but had no further comment.

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