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May 7 2008

AMPTP Walks Away From Talks With SAG

Sreen Actors GuildAnyone ready for “Strike 2008 Round 2”?

It seems those lovable, huggable folks at the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP) have walked away from the table talks with the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), just as they did at the end of the last year with the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA).

According to Deadline Hollywood, it seems the AMPTP may have been aching for a strike.  It is reported that on the first day of negotiations, Nick Counter, president of the AMPTP, came to the table and said, “These proposals are unreasonable. Well, I guess you’d better prepare for a strike.”  Nice to see they came into the negotiations with an open mind.

Apparently, if reports are to believed, SAG, in a good faith gesture, pulled DVD residuals off the table to smooth things over with the AMPTP, but the producers came in wanting to do away with the actor’s “French Hour”, which is an odd name for their lunch hour.  Er… okay.  They also want the right to use up to 5 minutes of television footage, and 10 minutes of film footage, without paying the actors for the use, nor ask permission to use the footage in a way they see fit.  So, get ready for George Clooney footage being used in advertisements for the Ku Klux Klan!

AMPTPAs I have said in the past, I am not big on unions, but there is something about the AMPTP that just makes my skin crawl.  Who does away with the right to lunch?  It seems when you look at the way this group of media moguls handled the WGA, and now SAG, they essentially want everything for nothing.  They wanted the writers to work without payment for Web content, and now they want the rights to use actors, whose endorsements can be worth millions of dollars, in any way they chose without some form of reimbursement to them.

I don’t get this.  Perhaps someone wiser than I in the ways of Hollywood can explain to me why the producers, people who are not involved in the creative process at all, should be allowed to use so many things for free.  Yes, they come up with the money to fund projects, but I would love to know why they feel this entitles them to things they ask for.

Now, if SAG does strike at the end of June, I highly doubt it will stretch on like the WGA did.  There were stockpiled scripts ready to go in case of a strike, but that’s a bit harder to do without any one to act them out.  If this strike does happen, it won’t be noticeable quite as quickly as the writer’s strike was, but expect next Summer to be a bit lite on films.



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