*Studios set deadline

They're reportedly telling the Screen Actors Guild that any proposed wage increases under a new contract would be retroactive to July 1, when the previous contract expired. But that sweetener would only be made if the union accepts the media companies' final contract offer by Aug. 15. Presumably, that means the actors could lose more than $200,000 a day in increases. Here are stories from AP and Variety (I couldn't find any others at this hour). If true, the ultimatum is bound to place further pressure on SAG leadership to do a deal pronto. But it also could tick off the SAG negotiators, especially in light of AFTRA ratifying its contract. On Thursday, SAG is expected to respond to the final offer by the studios and networks, but there's certainly little sign, at least publicly, that itís ready to capitulate. One possibility making the rounds would have the media companies just declaring the talks at an impasse and let the union squabble among themselves until somebody is left standing. Who the heck knows?

Meantime, if you want a glimpse into the fractious relations between SAG and AFTRA, check out Claude Brodesser's interview with the heads of the two unions on KCRW. (You can catch a replay at 7 p.m. or just go to LAO, which has the link.) It also provides insight into the less-than-deferential ways of SAG President Alan Rothenberg, who talked over both Brodesser and AFTRA President Roberta Reardon, especially on the issue of qualified voting. That would limit the people voting on a new contract to folks who are working actors (as opposed to wannabes who have uttered two lines their entire careers but hold onto SAG cards because they're willing to pay the dues). In passionately arguing against the qualified voting idea, Rosenberg spoke of an American Indian who last performed four years ago and yet should be allowed to vote because he considers himself an actor.

*The WSJ reports that given the decreasing chances of a strike, studios might just push ahead with planned projects.

The studios, fearing SAG leadership might drag negotiations on through the union's elections in September, are considering adopting a more aggressive strategy. The producers have discussed the possibility of publicly asking SAG leadership to allow its members to vote on the current deal or declaring an impasse in the talks, which would allow them to implement parts of the current offer.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
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