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44 entertainment SAG deal works for Toronto

Some actors still opposed Despite tentative studio deal, minority group remains vocal A group of Hollywood actors remains staunchly opposed to a proposed two-year deal with the major studios, and is gearing up to fight its ratification by members. The Screen Actors Guild board approved the tentative deal by a slim margin of 53 per cent to 47 per cent on Sunday. But the minority group against the deal, a faction called Membership First, remains vocal and has a well-funded political machine it intends to use to fight ratification “as hard as anything I’ve campaigned against,� said its spokeswoman, AnneMarie Johnson. Talks on a contract covering movies and prime-time TV shows have run well past the contract’s expiration last June. But with ballots to be sent to 120,000 members for a vote in the next few weeks, actors in Hollywood are bracing for a final battle. Scott Wilson, a 67-yearold actor who has been in more than 50 movies and nearly a dozen TV shows, is part of the hardline group opposing the deal and has protested the studio’s offer for the last 12 weeks in front of the Guild’s headquarters in Los Angeles. On Monday, following the board’s weekend vote, he took up his post again. “I believe if this should be ratified by membership, it is the end of acting as a profession,� Wilson said. Wilson argues that the agreement is dangerous because it allows producers to create Internet-only shows with non-union actors, opening the door to

DAMIAN DOVARGANES/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

A tentative Studios, noting the agreedeal between the largest ment still requires mail-in actors’ union in the U.S. ballot approval by the U.S. and the major studios is union’s 20,000 members, potentially good news for which isn’t likely to be film and television pro- completed until the end duction in Toronto and of May. “We’ve been waiting for this day for a long Canada. The board of the U.S. time. It is definitely going to be good for Screen Acbusiness. It tors Guild may not nechas narrow- “That (tentative essarily open ly approved deal) is the good the flooda new agreement news. The bad news gates but ... it removes a with the Al- is that it looks like fairly major liance of Motion Pic- it’s going to take up obstacle.� Stephen ture and to five or six weeks Waddell, naTelevision to get it ratified.� tional execuProducers, Ken Ferguson, tive director representof the Aling the ma- Filmport Studios liance of jor Hollywood studios, that could Canadian Cinema, Televilead to the end of a two- sion and Radio Artists, said the SAG dispute has year impasse. That impasse has meant mostly held up studio apa dramatic decline in stu- proval of big-budget feadio approvals of feature ture films. With the Canadian dolfilm productions, some of which get shot in Canada. lar falling to about 80 “That (tentative deal) is cents U.S., the film and TV the good news. The bad production industry here news is that it looks like is once again poised to atit’s going to take up to tract increasing amounts five or six weeks to get it of U.S. business, Waddell ratified,� said Ken Fergu- said. son, president of Filmport TORSTAR NEWS SERVICES AGREEMENT

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bale, Wahlberg to work together Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg are not done professionally. The Dark Knight has signed on to join Wahlberg in The Fighter, a years-in-development biopic following Boston’s world lightweight champ (Irish) Mickey Ward. EONLINE.COM

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• The Guild’s majority group and its minority opposition will write up materials for and against the agreement in the next two weeks that will accompany the ballots, and voting is expected to wrap up in four or five weeks. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

ship First out of power last fall in internal elections that reflected actors’ unhappiness with the long delay in reaching a deal. The moderates will mount a campaign of their own, courting actors by “disabusing them of some of the disinformation and scare tactics� that Membership First has used to rally opposition, said Sam Freed, president of the Guild’s New York division, which is working with the moderate group. He argued that under the proposal, non-union actors are only allowed on “low budget� shows costing less than $15,000 per minute, and only then if no actor hired has credits on stage or screen — exceptional cases that don’t matter much to working actors. Freed also notes that networks are making far less in advertising revenue on online reruns than with broadcast TV reruns, and are not about to make a switch that will hurt actors’ residual income by much. “The networks are not going to slit their throats and rush their product to the Internet,� he said. “It’s a real bogus argument.�

Actor Scott Wilson, bottom center, with others protest the proposed Screen Actors Guild contract outside the SAG offices in Los Angeles on April 20. Wilson has been protesting outside the Screen Actors Guild for almost 12 weeks now.

the union’s eventual irrelevance. The agreement also reduces residual payments — checks that actors receive on DVD sales or show reruns — for content that is offered on the web versus on traditional platforms. Wilson said actors’ residual income, sometimes half their earnings, will shrink by millions of dollars because networks are cutting back on TV reruns and more and more movies and TV shows are ending up online. He said the same tactics were used by the studios to trim actors’ compensation on emerging technologies

when cable TV became a force in the 1980s, and again when DVDs took hold in the 1990s. “Now they’re singing the same old song: ‘We’ll sunset this and renegotiate this in two years,’� Wilson said. “You know from history what that means. Once they have the template, that’s going to be the model and they’re not going to change it.� The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the studios, declined to comment. A moderate Guild faction called Unite for Strength pushed Member-

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