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Like clusters of onlookers awaiting the Vatican smoke signals that announce a new pope, all of Hollywood stirred abuzz today learning that George Clooney would finally weigh in with a letter addressing the conflict between SAG and AFTRA. And weigh in he... didn't, instead choosing a neutral stand essentially saying everyone's right and would they please just sit down and try hammering out something constructive for once? Seriously, folks:

At the risk of being yet another actor giving his opinion about the ongoing fight between SAG and AFTRA, I'm hoping that there might be a way out of this. Rather than pitting artist against artist, maybe we could find a way to get what both unions are looking for.

Both are, of course, right. AFTRA feels that a work stoppage would be devastating to its members and SAG believes that if they don't draw a line in the sand, the studios will repeat what they did with DVDs.

There are a couple of fundamental facts that both sides have to start with ... first is that the WGA, DGA and IATSE all agreed to a certain model (DVDs not being a part of it). Breaking that model for AFTRA or SAG would retroactively break the other models ... so you can be pretty sure that the AMPTP isn't going to do that.

Jesus, this totally throws our SAG Strike Mad Libs™ out of whack. That said, neutral as Clooney sounds, his recognition of the models already in place and the whole "quarterback-protecting-the-linemen" metaphor that follows both support the rumors he leans pro-AFTRA. But we don't really care either way, now that Kim Masters has unequivocally attested there will be no SAG strike anyway:

Already, production has slowed way down in Hollywood because no one wants to be caught with the cameras rolling if the actors were to walk. But SAG hasn't even called for strike authorization (which would take three weeks and the approval of 75 percent of those voting). The reason seems obvious: The union wouldn't get it. The economy sucks, and the rank and file simply don't have the appetite for a strike after the Writers Guild walkout earlier this year. ... We're just sticking with something that makes a lot of money for industry executives these days even if it kind of sucks: reality.

Great. So now what are we supposed to do with our stockpile of bottled water and canned goods?

[Photo Credit: Teeny Manolo]