Actors, Producers Resume Stalled Contract Talks

SHERMAN OAKS, Calif. -- Negotiators for the Screen Actors Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers resumed contract talks Tuesday for the first time since November.

The two sides met Tuesday at the AMPTP offices in Sherman Oaks. Another meeting is scheduled for Wednesday.

The negotiations are the first since Nov. 22 and the first since SAG members elected a more moderate board and fired their chief negotiator.

Negotiations had been expected to resume earlier this month, but the talks were put on hold when SAG's president went to court in hopes of overturning the reconstituted union board's decision to oust SAG Executive Director and chief negotiator Doug Allen.

SAG President Alan Rosenberg and First Vice-President Anne-Marie Johnson claimed that Allen's ouster violated California's corporate code and should be nullified.

But Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant disagreed, saying the board was "permitted to do exactly what they did."

The SAG contract covering motion picture and television production expired June 30. Negotiations deadlocked when SAG demanded better terms than other entertainment industry unions received.

The main sticking points are the amount of pay for programming shown over the Internet and DVD sales. Production has continued under the terms of the previous agreement.

With talks stalled, some union leaders pushed for SAG to hold a strike-authorization vote on Jan. 2, but it was postponed amid growing dissension within the union, leading to fears that the vote would fall short of the required 75 percent yes vote.

The rising tension surrounding the contract stalemate was evident outside the AMPTP offices when talks resumed, as members of SAG and other unions waved signs and marched -- with some calling for a quick resolution to the talks and others urging SAG negotiators to push for a better residuals deal for work shown on the Internet.

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