Transcripts of SAG/AMPTP meeting released

Actors guild's negotiators meeting Friday about response

As Hollywood attempts to digest what transpired Thursday at the meeting between SAG and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers, details of what took place at the bargaining table have been released.

According to a transcript released by the AMPTP, the group's executive vp business and legal affairs, Carol Lombardini told SAG's negotiating committee, "It is important to be clear: What we gave you on June 30 was our final offer. It doesn't get any better than that. That is the best deal you are going to achieve from us."

The AMPTP released the transcripts in response to SAG's contention that the studios have not really made their final offer. SAG has said several "final offers" by the AMPTP have been made in past negotiations with other guilds and unions, most recently during the WGA negotiations. The AMPTP says no final offers were ever made to the WGA over the course of their negotiations.

Lombardini later asks, "Do we make this deal or not?" before conceding that the AMPTP doesn't believe its the best deal for the studios and that there are "many areas of our business that need to be addressed that this contract does not fix.

"But we believe, putting our wishes and desires aside, that this is the best deal we can achieve with you."

SAG and the AMPTP met Thursday at the studios headquarters in Sherman Oaks for about five hours. The meeting was set for SAG to respond to the AMPTP's final offer, which was made June 30 on the 42nd day of negotiating and just hours before the SAG contract expired.

The AMPTP said the final offer is a $250 million package, that includes increases in minimums for actors, some jurisdiction over new media and retention of clip content for productions done before July 1, with actors then negotiating the use of their clips for new productions after that date.

After Thursday's meeting, SAG's chief negotiator and executive director Doug Allen called the $250 million price tag "highly inflated."

SAG responded to the AMPTP offer, with a counter-proposal, which the union said included accepting some of the studios terms, but proposing changes in other areas.

The union's biggest sticking points apparently remain: Increases in DVD residuals, a say in product integration and jurisdiction over new media, including productions deemed "experimental."

Lombardini's comments came after SAG gave it counter-proposal and the AMPTP met separately in a caucus to discuss the response.

Lombardini laid out to SAG what the repercussions would be if they left the room without accepting the offer.

First, SAG would face losing out on the retroactive status of the offer. If SAG can ratify the agreement by Aug. 15, it will go into effect retroactively to July 1, she said.

Additionally, Lombardini said if the economy continues to deteriorate and the studios start feeling more of a pinch, the AMPTP could very well take its final offer off the table and "re-evaluate" it.

And lastly, she said, no new contract further halts production in TV and film.

"There is no question that given the uncertainty of not having a deal, some feature productions will go on, while others will not," Lombardini said. "Each one that doesn't go forward results in fewer jobs and lost earnings for you. The risks are even greater in television. Continued uncertainty over contract status further jeopardizes scripted programming. Once again, it all amounts to less for you."

Lombardini ended the AMPTP's response with, "The decision is yours to make. We encourage you to let the entire membership decide."

A SAG spokeswoman said Thursday night that it is not up to the AMPTP to decide what the union's membership should vote on.

SAG's negotiating committee met behind closed doors Friday at the union's Los Angeles headquarters to discuss bargaining strategies.

"Our national negotiating committee did not, as has been erroneously reported, reject the AMPTP's offer," said Allen. "Instead, we made a comprehensive counter-proposal that adopted some of their proposals and offered alternatives on others. We significantly narrowed the gap between us while remaining committed to the principles of our bargaining priorities."

SAG said it would provide an additional negotiations update on Monday. There were no plans for the negotiating committee to meet over the weekend.