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Curtain Falling on Labor Talks, but Actors Don't Exit

June 28, 2004|From Times wire services

NEW YORK — Talks between producers and the actors union that represents the casts of Broadway hits like "Wicked" and "Avenue Q" broke down late Sunday, but the guild said the shows would go on -- for now.

Talks between the Actors' Equity Assn. and the League of American Theaters and Producers ended about one hour before the contract's scheduled expiration at midnight, according to Maria Somma, a spokeswoman for the Actors' Equity Assn.

But she said, for now, union members would not walk off the stages of two dozen Broadway shows, allowing plays and musicals to stay open during the summer tourist season.

"We are instructing our members to go to the theaters and give their performances," said Somma, who said the union could decide to walk off the job this week.

In a statement, the producers league said: "Actors' Equity broke off negotiations Sunday night prior to the contract deadline. Our understanding is that Actors' Equity has indicated actors will be at work Monday, and our expectation is that contract talks will resume as well."

The 6,000 members of the Actors' Equity Assn. had previously authorized a strike. Sticking points are health benefits, salaries for touring companies and an increase in nonunion tours.

Recent Tony Award winners like "Wicked," "Avenue Q," "The Boy from Oz" and "Raisin in the Sun," which routinely sell out, would be among those hit by a strike.

Just four Broadway shows would not be affected because they are covered by different contracts: Stephen Sondheim's "Assassins" and Donald Margulies' Sight Unseen," which are currently running, and Arthur Miller's "After the Fall" and Nathan Lane's version of "The Frogs," which are still in previews.

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