SAG to start talks with producers

April 2, 2008 7:33:35 AM PDT
The Screen Actors Guild announced it will begin negotiating a new contract with Hollywood producers on April 15.

Talks are set to start more than two months before SAG's contract expires with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on June 30.

A-list actors such as George Clooney and Meryl Streep have pushed SAG to start talks quickly as the industry reconnects with viewers after the recent 100-day writers strike.

The 120,000-member SAG has said it will focus on getting the producers to provide favorable pay for new forms of media and a larger share of home video revenue.

It appears Tuesday night's announcement means SAG will beat its fellow actors union, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, to the bargaining table. AFTRA had no immediate comment.

The two unions had for decades negotiated together with producers, but they parted ways last weekend. Some 44,000 actors are members of both unions, and the two groups had long sniped at each other over who better represents them.

AFTRA President Roberta Reardon had said the last straw was SAG's trying to persuade actors from the soap opera "The Bold and The Beautiful" to abandon the federation. But Guild President Alan Rosenberg called the suggestion that SAG was trying to poach the actors a "cynical" excuse by AFTRA to hasten the end of their partnership.