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Actors Unions Get Help From Campaign Trail

May 09, 2000|JAMES BATES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Two media consulting firms working on the Bush and Gore presidential campaigns have signed interim working agreements with the unions representing striking commercial actors, according to the unions.

Squier Knapp Dunn, a Washington, D.C., firm working for Vice President Al Gore's Democratic campaign, as well as Stevens and Schriefer Group in Virginia, which is working for Texas Gov. George W. Bush's Republican effort, have agreed to buck the ad industry and work within contract guidelines proposed by the unions.

The agreements, being offered to all commercial producers, give the blessing of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists to shoot commercials during the strike as long as the firms agree to pay actors according to the last union contract proposal.

Actors, citing the boom in cable TV, want to be paid residuals each time a commercial airs on either network or cable television. Actors currently receive residuals on network ads, but not cable commercials.

The advertising industry, citing the splintering of network TV audiences that requires ads to run more often to reach the same number of people, are seeking to have actors paid a flat fee for commercials that appear on both networks and cable.

SAG is claiming that 300 interim agreements have been signed by commercial producers since the strike started May 1. Outside of the two media consulting firms, SAG is releasing no other names.

SAG President William Daniels said in a statement that the agreements show that "these companies know their revenue and income is created through the performance of our members in their commercials."

But John McGuinn, chief industry negotiator for the American Assn. of Advertising Agencies and the Assn. of National Advertisers, said he is skeptical of the claim, arguing that the number is inflated and can include tiny production companies owned by SAG members.

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