Saturday, May 31, 2008

Latest from Hollywood Today- 30 may 2008

Three Hollywood guilds down, one to go — the biggest one

By Brian Frederick

HOLLYWOOD, CA (Hollywood Today) 5/29/08

After three weeks of meetings and denials just 24 hours ago that an agreement had not been reached between Hollywood studios and the American Federation of Television and Radios Artists (AFTRA), the two sides signed a tentative deal early this morning.

Roberta Reardon, AFTRA’s National President called the agreement “groundbreaking.”

Hollywood’s biggest studios have been battling it out with labor unions during the past year over new media, such as internet revenue sharing, ITunes, and DVD royalties to name a few concerns.

The Directors Guild of America, Writers Guild of America, and now AFTRA, have all come to terms with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

Pressure mounts for SAG’s 139,000 members to sign an agreement with the studios before their current contract expires June 30 or the entertainment industry may see another strike similar to the recent WGA strike.

That strike cost the Los Angeles economy nearly $2 billion, according to officials.

AFTRA and the Screen Actors Guild had previously worked together during contract negotiations with the studios, however, the two decided to divorce for the first time in 27 years.

The tentative deal remains to be heard by AFTRA’s union members and become formally ratified.

Reardon said to the media, “this is a challenging time in the entertainment industry, and this was a tough negotiation.”

It was not clear if Reardon was referring to the sour relations that spawned recently between SAG and AFTRA over recruitment of its members or AFTRA’s relationship with the studios.

Now that a treaty has been brokered between AFTRA and the AMPTP, SAG will have to take a hard look at the AFTRA deal.

Nearly 40,000 members of AFTRA are also SAG members.

A possible snag for SAG negotiations within the AFTRA contract, calls for studio exemptions from paying residuals on made-for-internet programs that fall below certain productions costs of $500,000 per series or $15,000 per minute.

Showing promise that a deal could be reached between SAG and the studios.

SAG has not yet issued a strike authorization from its members as their contract expires in one month.

The AFTRA agreement calls for minimum wage increases of 3.5% in the first year, 3% the second year and 3.5% in the third year.

The deal covers hit TV shows such as “Curb Your Enthusiasm” “Reaper” and “Rules of Engagement,” though most TV series are covered under SAG agreements.

AFTRA began in 1937 as the American Federation of Radio Artists.

In 1950, the Television Authority granted by the Associated Actors and Artistes of America, joined AFRA in 1952 to create AFTRA.

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