SAG-AFTRA, studios set to meet again Friday

Union and studio negotiators are scheduled to meet Friday for the third time in four days in an attempt to end the actors’ strike, which has reached 106 days.

Negotiators from the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists “passed a comprehensive counter across the table to the CEOs” Thursday, according to a statement from the union.

The union’s TV/Theatrical Negotiating Committee met following the meeting, the union reported.

Thursday’s nearly five-hour negotiating session focused on SAG-AFTRA’s response to the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers’ most recent offer of increased bonuses based on the success of streaming shows and movies and a rise in minimum rates, the entertainment news site Deadline reported.

Using the agreement with the Writers Guild of America as a baseline, the studios had put forth a 7% increase in minimums while SAG-AFTRA reduced its request for an 11% increase to 9%, according to the entertainment trade newspaper Variety.

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, chief negotiator at the union, told Deadline earlier Thursday that he was “cautiously optimistic” about talks with the studios.

“We are having continued negotiations today and we’re 100% focused on making a fair deal at the table,” Crabtree-Ireland said in an interview outside Paramount Studios where union members were picketing. “That’s where it’s going. That’s what it’s all about.

“I am cautiously optimistic that can happen. I don’t really want to characterize what’s going on in the room but we’re really focused on just staying prepared and focused on getting the negotiations done.”

The studios have warned that next year’s summer blockbuster films could be postponed and television shows could be canceled if a deal is not reached in the coming week, according to Variety.

The union sees that as an empty threat, but is also dealing with growing restlessness among its A-list members, Variety reported.

The first bargaining session between the two sides since Oct. 11 was Tuesday with Disney’s Bob Iger, NBCUniversal’s Donna Langley, Warner Bros Discovery’s David Zaslav and Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos participating, according to Deadline.

Negotiators had been scheduled to meet for a second consecutive day Wednesday, but the talks were canceled to allow the union’s negotiating committee to review the latest counter-offer from the studios, according to a union statement.

The AMPTP, which represents the studios, broke off talks on Oct. 11 following five negotiating sessions spread over two weeks.

The actors’ union demands include general wage increases, protections against the use of actor images through artificial intelligence, boosts in compensation for successful streaming programs and improvements in health and retirement benefits.

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