Deal Expected Soon in Actors' Talks
Baker, Chris, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Byline: Chris Baker
Hollywood's studios and actors face a midnight deadline tonight to agree on a new contract, which is needed to avoid a strike that would shut down production on most movies and television shows.
The six-week-long negotiations - which have focused on compensation for lower-paid actors - continued in Encino, Calif., yesterday. Both sides have refused to talk to reporters about the progress of the talks, but entertainment trade journals reported that a deal is expected this weekend.
Industry analysts say an actors' strike would just about shut down Hollywood and result in fewer movies and more reality TV shows like "Survivor" and "Temptation Island," which do not require actors.
In this week's newsletter to members of the Screen Actors Guild, the largest of the two actors' unions involved in the talks, chief negotiator Brian Walton said he was "cautiously optimistic" a deal would be made by the deadline but also suggested it could be extended.
"[I]f it is made a few long days and nights thereafter, no matter," Mr. Walton wrote.
This spring, the guild for Hollywood's screenwriters extended the deadline for its negotiations with the studios for three days past the May 1 deadline before a deal was announced.
Fears of an actors' strike subsided when the screenwriters and producers reached their agreement. Most observers said the actors would use the writers' deal as a model for their talks and predicted the negotiations would conclude quickly.
"It is weird that these talks are still going on," said Steven D. Currall, a professor of management and psychology for Rice University in Houston.
The negotiators involved could be inexperienced, or they could be "very strategic," he said.
Before the actors' talks began, the unions said a key issue was compensation for so-called middle-class actors, who typically earn between $30,000 and $70,000 a year doing small roles in the movies and guest shots on TV. …