SAG, AMPTP return to table

Mediator will bring sides together Thursday for the first time since July

SAG and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers will meet face-to-face with a federal mediator Thursday at the majors' headquarters in Sherman Oaks.

The meeting is the first between the sides since mid-July, when the AMPTP made its $250 million final offer to the actors union and broke off the bargaining.

SAG countered with its own proposal, which the producers refused to address. Since then, the two parties have been locked in a stalemate.

Last month, SAG's national board voted to bring in a federal mediator to try to reboot the stalled talks.

The mediator, Juan Carlos Gonzalez, has been taking it slow, meeting twice with SAG and twice with the AMPTP, most recently Thursday. It's a different approach to last year, when he was called in about a week before the WGA went on strike against the AMPTP.

"He may have learned a little bit more from the WGA experience," said labor attorney Scott Witlin of Los Angeles' Akin Gump. "It's a different industry, and the issues aren't the typical issues a mediator has to deal with. The compensation that writers and actors receive is extraordinary in the amount and in the way they are paid.

"It's so complicated because of the residual formulas and exclusives, and everything that goes on with that is incredibly arcane," he added.

So far, both sides have kept mum on what has transpired with Gonzalez in their separate meetings.

Thursday is the earliest the two sides could meet. The AMPTP is meeting Monday through Wednesday with IATSE to negotiate its basic agreement that covers below-the-line workers. (partialdiff)
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