Monday, June 30, 2008

To Strike Or Not To Strike....

The media buzz is about the pending actors' strike, so let's hope you've enjoyed your few months of new flicks and fresh TV. If the actors walk, you can say goodbye to new fare on the screen. The only place you'll be able to see A-listers like Patrick Dempsey and Steve Carell will be the picket line.

On one side of the bargaining table is the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. On the other: the Screen Actors Guild. The issue at hand is once again money--residual payments for DVD sales, reimbursements for work-related trips and fees for Internet content.

Without an agreement, Hollywood's actors have two options: work without a contract or strike. Of course, in order to strike, the guild needs a 75% authorization vote, a process that would take up to three weeks.

While unlikely, the studios could enforce a lockout barring these actors from working until a contract is signed.

Will this be a rerun of the earlier writers' strike that delayed last season’s production?

It's hard to believe either side wants a strike. After all, the 100-day writers' strike left both the television and film business in disarray and set Los Angeles County back more than $2 billion in lost wages and related economic activity earlier this year.

Hits like NBC's Heroes and ABC's Private Practice were forced to shutter production mid-season, and others like Fox' 24 never even made it to air. Many of the TV shows that did come back never regained their full pre-strike audiences.

But the plot thickens this time around, since a smaller actors' union known as the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) has created more infighting than consensus. The two unions have each lined up marquee stars to push their respective agendas.

With Tom Hanks and Sally Field on its side, AFTRA wants members to ratify its deal and move on. And with Jack Nicholson and Sandra Oh on its side, SAG thinks its rival union has negotiated a bum deal and wants to hang on for a better one. George Clooney has planted himself firmly in the middle, hoping to refocus both sides on actually making a deal.

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