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SAG Board Approves Studio Deal

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Voting on party lines, a sharply divided SAG board approved the tentative deal with the studios yesterday by a vote of about 53% to 47%. The deal now goes to the membership for ratification, with a bruising fight promised by the hardline MembershipFirst faction. Ratification is nonetheless expected, and will mark an end to an almost ten month Hollywood stalemate.

Ballots will go out to the members in early May and will be due back three weeks later. The balloting material will be accompanied by both pro and con statements, and the fight over the deal will be a prelude to SAG's presidential and board elections, which will commence in July and run through September. Current SAG president Alan Rosenberg has come out in opposition to the deal, while Ned Vaughn, leader of the moderate Unite for Strength group, told Variety that he favored a yes vote.

Although the deal is expected to be ratified, it won't achieve the over 90% thumbs-up that the Writers Guild deal did last year. An approval in the 60%-70% range seems more likely, given that the AFTRA deal last year achieved only 62%, as a result of an ultimately futile anti-ratification campaign conducted by SAG.

Details and analysis of the deal are available here, and below are press releases from SAG, AFTRA (a rival actors union) and the AMPTP (the alliance representing the studios).

On a personal note, I had a surreal experience outside yesterday's board meeting. As I talked to a board member who discussed his/her vehement opposition to product integration (a form of product placement, and an issue on which the new contract gives nothing to actors), another board member walked up and handed me a can of energy drink. I looked over and saw a marketing truck painted to look like a can of the drink and blaring rock music. In other words -- product placement at SAG's own board meeting! A bit of a surprise.

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Screen Actors Guild National Board of Directors Approves Tentative Televison and Motion Picture Contracts and Recommends Ratification

Los Angeles (April 19, 2009) - The Screen Actors Guild National Board of Directors today voted 53.38 percent to 46.62 percent to approve and recommend to members, new, two-year successor agreements to the 2005 Producer-Screen Actors Guild Codified Basic Agreement and 2005 Screen Actors Guild Television Agreement.

The proposed agreement, covering actors in motion pictures and television delivers 3.5% effective annual increases comprised of a 3% wage increase and a .5% pension and health contribution increase upon ratification, and a 3.5% wage increase in year two.

The board passed the below motion shortly after 4:00 p.m. today:

It was moved and seconded that the National Board directs the Interim National Executive Director to send the tentative agreement between the Producers represented by the AMPTP and the Screen Actors Guild for successor agreements to the 2005 Producer-Screen Actors Guild Codified Basic Agreement and the 2005 Screen Actors Guild Television Agreement to the membership for ratification, with a recommendation from the Board to vote 'Yes.' Approved: 53.38% -46.62%

"I urge members to carefully review both the pros and cons in the referendum materials, and exercise their right to vote," said Screen Actors Guild National President Alan Rosenberg.

Interim National Executive Director David White said: "We are pleased that Screen Actors Guild members will soon be voting on a deal for television and motion pictures. We're eager to get our members back to work and to focus now on the challenges ahead, particularly on initiating a comprehensive effort to thoughtfully plan for the future.

Our negotiating committee, task force and professional staff have worked countless hours on this agreement over the last year. On behalf of the National Board, I thank them for their time, commitment and expertise."

Chief Negotiator John McGuire stated: "This tentative agreement delivers increased contributions to the SAG pension plan, increased minimums, a significant gain in background actor numbers from 50 to 55 over the term of the contract, and it tracks the new media provisions achieved by other entertainment industry unions. The term of the agreement puts SAG in sync with the other unions, and does not include the extended term recently proposed by the AMPTP."

Provisions of the proposed deal include:
• A two-year term of agreement concluding June 30, 2011.
• Effective annual increases comprised of 3.0% in wage increases and .5% in pension contributions upon ratification, and a 3.5% wage increase one year following ratification.
• A new media structure that tracks those achieved by other industry unions, resulting in gains for actors including:
o Jurisdiction on all derivative, made-for new media productions; automatic jurisdiction on all high-budget, original, made-for new media productions; plus jurisdiction on low budget original, new media productions that employee at least 1 covered performer.
o Residuals for exhibition of TV and Theatrical motion pictures on consumer pay platforms (Electronic Sell Through) at a greater percentage than those paid for DVD distribution.
o Residuals for ad-supported streaming of feature films and television programs.
o Residuals for derivative new media programs.
• Additional 5 covered background actors in feature films. From 50 to 53 covered background positions upon ratification of the contract, and from 53 to 55 covered background positions in year 2. Adds 1 covered background position in TV, from 19 to 20, upon ratification.
• Increased compensation for guest star premium from 7.5% to 10%.
• Increased trailer money break from $2,500 to $3,000, or more per week.
• Increased overtime money break for three-day performers from $2,700 to $3,000.
Ratification ballots will be mailed to eligible SAG members in early May, with an expected return date at the end of the month. Tabulation will occur immediately upon the conclusion of balloting.
Bargaining for a successor agreement to the 2005 SAG TV/Theatrical Contract began on April 15, 2008.

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AFTRA Statement Regarding New Screen Actors Guild Film and Television

Agreement

The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists issued the following statement by President Roberta Reardon regarding the announcement that the Screen Actors Guild National Board has approved a tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on a new SAG film and television contract.

"AFTRA congratulates our sister union, Screen Actors Guild, on its new tentative agreement with the AMPTP. I applaud the SAG Negotiating Task Force for bringing a strong contract to the SAG National Board for approval, and I commend the SAG National Board for its leadership in approving and recommending this contract for ratification by their membership."

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Statement by the AMPTP

The new AMPTP-SAG agreement is the eighth major labor agreement reached by AMPTP since the start of 2008 and the 312th such agreement in AMPTP's 27-year history. Because both sides were willing to compromise we now have an agreement that will provide SAG members with meaningful wage boosts, pension increases, first-class health benefits, and a complete set of new media rights and residuals. With this agreement in place, our entire industry can work together to overcome the enormous economic challenges before us.

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