AFTRA back at table, SAG waiting its turn

L.A. screen actors will meet for update tonight

After a second weekend break, AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers head back to the bargaining table today to continue formal talks on a new primetime TV contract that expires June 30.

Talks between AFTRA and the AMPTP began May 7 following the suspension of negotiations with sister guild SAG. The two performers unions are negotiating the primetime TV contract separately for the first time in 27 years after a fallout on the eve of formal talks.

Not much has been released about the negotiations between AFTRA and the producers because of a news blackout. However, in an e-mail message to members last week, AFTRA president Roberta Reardon indicated that the two sides were making progress.

In the meantime, Los Angeles SAG members will meet tonight to discuss the guild's recent contract talks and the state of the negotiation. Talks between SAG and the AMPTP began April 15 and broke down May 6 with no new deal. The AMPTP has offered to meet with SAG on May 28, indicating that it expects to finish negotiations with AFTRA in the next week and a half.

In a video message posted last week on the union's Web site, SAG national executive director Doug Allen said that the AMPTP suspended the negotiations "in spite of the progress we were making and moves we made in their direction."

Among the issues Allen said the two sides "spent quite a bit of time" discussing was product placement and integration in film and TV productions and "dealing with the circumstances that actors find themselves in when they're making scripted content but they're handed a product to extol or endorse."

Allen also indicated that there were "some boulders in the road," including the AMPTP's proposals to create an online clip library in which they want actors to give blanket consent for the use of legally downloaded content.

As for the May 28 date, SAG has accepted, but Allen said it's "wasting time."

"We're prepared to go back to the table and get this deal done as soon as possible," he said, adding, "We need their cooperation. We can't do this by ourselves." (partialdiff)