SAG, majors to meet face-to-face Thursday

Actor's union, AMPTP last met in July

After five months of no talks between SAG and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers, the two sides will meet face-to-face with a federal mediator on Thursday at the majors headquarters in Sherman Oaks.

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

SAG countered with its own proposal, which the producers refused. 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 re-boot the stalled talks.

The mediator, Juan Carlos Gonzalez, split four meetings between SAG and the AMPTP.

Gonzalez has been taking it slow, meeting twice with SAG and twice with the AMPTP, most recently last Thursday.

It's a very different approach to last year, when he was called in about a week before the WGA went on strike.

"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. "Getting up to speed on this is incredibly difficult."

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.

The AMPTP made its final offer to SAG on June 30, and the two sides last met July 15 after the AMPTP rejected a counterproposal by SAG.