Actors And Studios Strike A DealBy Caillan
July 4, 2001 - 11:43 AM
After over a month of negotiations, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) finally reached a tentative agreement at 9:30pm Tuesday night.
The new three-year contract was endorsed by all members of the SAG and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) negotiating teams. "I have to say that I am slap-happy with an emphasis on happy," said SAG president William Daniels (via the Hollywood Reporter). "Both sides focused on problem solving and finally came up with an agreement that is equitable for both sides."
Although the exact details of the new agreement will be kept under wraps until members of SAG and AFTRA vote on the deal, union leaders outlined the major points. Officials were particularly pleased that they had obtained pay rises for the "middle-class membership" - those actors who earn less than $70,000 per year.
"Our main goal in these negotiations was to help the middle-income actor -- the actor that you all recognize but sometimes you don't know their names," said AFTRA president Shelby Scott (via Variety). "They are the backbone of this industry. And I think we have helped them."
As Variety's sources indicated (story), the contract includes a raise in the minimum pay scale of between 3 and 3.5% for each year of the three-year contract. As expected, the deal also features higher wages for not only television guest stars, but also stunt actors.
Residual fees for cable television, foreign airings of some shows, and the Fox network will also increase under the new agreement. Fox's fees, which were previously 66% of the other networks, will be raised to an equal level. Further contributions to the SAG health plan and provisions for the Internet are also part of the deal.
SAG chief negotiator Brian Walton said that the final days of the talks were devoted to fine-tuning. "The last two days were more about getting it right than breaking logjams," he said. "Just about every major area that actors needed to see addressed were addressed."
The new contract still needs to be ratified by SAG's 135,000 members, a process that will take place over the next month. The governing boards of SAG and AFTRA are likely to meet next week to approve the new deal, and all going well, the final ratification will be voted by the rank and file members of the unions.
Now that potential strikes by both SAG and the Writers Guild of America (WGA) have been averted, production of film and television series can proceed unimpeded. This is particularly good news for both Enterprise, set to debut this fall, and Trek X, which is rumoured to be shooting at the end of year, as there will now be no interruption to their schedules.