LOS ANGELES — Hollywood actors reached a tentative contract agreement Tuesday night that will likely avert a crippling walkout for the TV and movie industry, the two sides said in a joint statement.
The deal recommended by negotiators for the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists must be approved by a majority of the unions’ 135,000 members.
Terms of the agreement were not immediately disclosed.
Negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents studios and networks, began May 15 and progressed slowly until the final days before the deadline.
The previous contract expired at 12:01 a.m. Sunday.
The guilds’ top concern was increasing pay for the nearly 75,000 members who secure acting work in any given year. About 6 percent of the members of SAG, the larger of the two unions, earn regular middle-class pay between $30,000 and $70,000 annually. About 71 percent earn less than $7,500 a year or nothing at all.
Only about 2 percent of the guilds’ membership earn more than $100,000 a year, including multimillion-dollar celebrities such as Jack Nicholson and Russell Crowe.
The performer guilds never called for a strike authorization vote, but fears of a walkout rumbled through the entertainment industry for much of last year when the robust economy prompted speculation that union demands would be steeper.
The fluctuating market has since cooled that sentiment and has been credited with pressuring both sides to reach a compromise without a work stoppage.
Last year, the actors’ unions staged a six-month strike by commercial actors that might have driven as much as $1 billion worth of work overseas.
Uncertainty over the negotiations prompted studios to accelerate shooting on films currently in production, and Hollywood could still grind to a halt despite the agreement.
That’s because producers will not start a new movie until an actor’s deal is made final and it takes nearly eight weeks for preproduction work to be completed.
Fall TV shows, which begin filming in the summer, also could be delayed for weeks.
The Writers Guild of America settled its new contract in early June, increasing overall pay by more than $41 million over the previous agreement.
Copyright (c) 2001 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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