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Actors Strike Negotiations to Continue Today

Labor: 'Productive' talks foster hope for progress in the dispute over pay structure for commercials.

September 14, 2000|JAMES BATES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

In what observers read as a subtly optimistic sign, representatives of striking actors and the advertising industry said they will continue meeting today to try to end the 20-week-old commercials strike.

The announcement came Wednesday after senior negotiators met in New York at the behest of federal mediators in sessions that sources said were noticeably less acrimonious than past sessions.

If progress is made today, full negotiating teams are expected to meet next week in New York.

In a statement, the two sides would say only that talks were held "in a businesslike manner."

Federal mediator John Muir called the seven-hour session "productive."

Members of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists went on strike May 1, principally over how they are to be paid for commercials shown on network and cable television.

Economists have estimated the strike has caused a $100-million direct hit to the Southern California economy, and more if one takes into account the ripple effect those losses have in the economy.

SAG, which was initially slow in attracting top stars to strike functions, continued to draw bigger names to the cause. Wednesday, actor Tom Hanks spoke at a rally in Los Angeles and Paul Newman appeared at a rally in New York. Other well-known actors, including Tom Selleck and Richard Dreyfuss, have started stumping on behalf of the union. Earlier in the week, Kevin Spacey pledged $100,000 to SAG's strike fund.

Both sides have been seeking to restructure the way actors are paid for commercials.

Advertisers want actors to accept a flat fee for ads on both network and cable TV channels, while actors want to be paid each time commercials run.

Actors now receive residuals when commercials run on network television, but are paid a flat fee when they appear on cable.

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