Talks Flop: Actors Strike Goes On

While the advertising industry has been somewhat successful in making do without star talent, executives quietly admitted frustration over the strike and the measures they have taken to meet their production and creative goals.

“The strike is a pain in the ass for agencies, and I’m sure a lot of actors would like to pay their mortgages,” said an executive at one large Los Angeles agency. “We just have to figure out ways around it.”

Commercial producers, who have circumvented the strike by casting non-union talent or taking their productions outside the U.S., expressed equal dismay that nego-tiations here failed to resolve the contentious dispute over residual payments for TV commercials.

“It is unbelievably upsetting that this isn’t moving forward,” said one executive producer at a production company. “I miss good actors. I’m tired of traveling. I want it over.”

Yet no end seems to be in sight. Nearly two weeks of heated negotiations between striking ac-tors and advertisers broke down last week, eliminating hope that the 5-month actors strike will be settled any time soon. At press time, no meetings were set for the feuding parties to reconvene.

Both sides rejected each other’s proposals last week and claimed each had made major concessions in their most recent offers.

“We made a number of big adjustments. They rejected each one of them,” said Screen Actors Guild president William Daniels. “Can you ask them what compromise they have made?”

Ira Shepard, counsel for the Joint Policy Committee, which represents the 4A’s and the ANA, said the ad industry made a grand gesture in retracting its proposal for flat-fee payment for network spots in favor of continuing the pay-per-play structure, but found the union unbending on issues such as the proposed flat-fee payment rate for cable residuals and could not reach an accord on the actual payment figures. “We made a monster effort to settle this thing,” said Shepard.

Another sticking point continues to be “jurisdiction” over ads made for the Internet.