Variety reminds us today that a major! labor! crisis! remains in effect at the Screen Actors Guild, which after three months has still made exactly no progress in settling its contract quibbles with the networks and major studios. Still, if those producers aren't worried, then you shouldn't be either — especially now that AFTRA is reportedly taking over where SAG can't necessarily be counted on. To wit, after securing its own three-year deal with the majors over the summer, the union has nabbed some high-profile new recruits for the primetime season to come.
· Sacha Baron Cohen's Bruno exploits took him from Israel to Arkansas; his Sherlock Holmes adventures to come may or may not include the missus.
· AFTRA ratified its new contract, but SAG didn't let that spoil its appetite for destruction.
· Harvey Weinstein is now officially going door-to-door to finance his films. Psst! Buddy! Wanna buy a Tarantino?
· The TV Critics Association Press Tour is dead. Long live the TCA Press Tour!
· Lest major Dark Knight spoilers aren't up your alley, there's always Michael Bay's unproduced Awesome Knight screenplay to hold you over another week.
· After a long string of compatibility issues, Drew Barrymore is on the market for a Mac huckster upgrade.
· This Week In Magazine Cover Hell: Blake Lively gets the blown-out Skeletor treatment, while the pasty youths of Twilight make EW safe for chest hair.
· Here's the story of a lovely lady, who was bringing up three very lovely RRRAAALLLLPPPHHHHH
· Defamer's readers joined Matthew McConaughey in welcoming a bouncing Bongo Romcom to the world.
· Meanwhile in France, stinky, salmon-devouring, "high-maintenance beetch" Angelina Jolie prepared her post-twinbirth conditioning regimen. Two words: Hula hoop.
· Pick your reality TV poison for 2009: America's Greatest Dog or The Ashley Dupre Governor Boink Variety Hour.
· We wished a healthy recovery (literally) to the rat-friendly Newsroom Cafe, and bid a fond farewell to J-Lo's slice of Pasadena paradise, Madre's.
· Have you yet greeted Tricia Romano, Defamer newcomer and social observer extraordinaire? Well? That's more like it.
· Molls ate spinach. That is all.
It's not quadrupled DVD residuals, regular cocaine rations and guaranteed work for all. However, the major studios' new concession to SAG — $10 million worth of new pay raises — is exactly what we thought might happen after SAG bludgeoned nearly 38% of AFTRA voters into opposing its primetime contract. The deal was ratified anyway, but the majors aren't taking any chances, notes Variety:
The nuclear labor plume at left is presented a little closer to actual size this morning, the start of the first full day without the specter of strike hell exhaling waves of rancid breath over Hollywood. Not that AFTRA's ratification of its prime-time contract Monday evening vanquishes the SAG threat altogether; the 62.4% tally in favor of AFTRA's deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers suggests that while a strike vote might fail, SAG leadership convinced probably upwards of 10,000 AFTRA members to stand down in the pitched battle between unions.
It's time to break out your SAG vs AFTRA Celebrity Turf War Map™ for an update, albeit a bit of a confusing one: Robert De Niro is the latest star to come out in opposition of a SAG strike, asserting during a press conference Saturday at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival that Hollywood has suffered enough bloodshed this year in the bargaining trenches to implode once more over residuals:
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:
Everywhere we've been around the LA Film Festival this week, the chatter du jour is either oversexed studio minions or how folks plan to spend their off-days during the increasingly inevitable-looking SAG strike. The latter conflict came into even sharper relief today in Variety, which published a SAG-AFTRA Bullshit Scorecard (hardly an improvement over our SAG Strike Mad Libs™, but whatever) breaking down the lies, celebrity endorsees and various other spin the unions are wielding in their steel-cage labor war:
Try as we might, there really is no fresh angle to report in the ongoing contract drama between SAG leadership and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers — the saber-rattling fuckers hate each other, and no strike-avoiding resolution is in sight before the current deal's June 30 expiration date. That said, a story is a story, so why not stimulate your interest (and ours) by adding your own fun invective and hyperbole to the mix!
Happy news emerged this morning from the deep, dank reaches of the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers headquarters, where it was announced the major studios have come to last-minute terms with AFTRA on a new three-year contract. Conveniently or not, the report comes a few hours before AFTRA's former negotiating partners in the Screen Actors Guild were set to resume their own talks with the majors. And with AFTRA reportedly agreeing to conditions on new-media residuals similar to those accepted by the DGA and WGA during the latter union's strike, SAG has until June 30 to determine if the terms are good enough for itself — or detonate! The! Industry! with another labor stoppage.
After a week-long lull in apocalyptic mutterings from all sides of SAG and AFTRA negotiations with the major studios, a couple of new stumbling blocks have appeared en route to a deal. For starters, AFTRA national president Roberta Reardon today sent out a sobering e-mail to her members, both acknowledging her discussions' ongoing news blackout while giving the rank-and-file plenty to leak to the press. To wit: Reardon writes that even AFTRA, which was expected to breeze to a new contract after SAG very publicly dug in its heels last month, is apparently having a hard time coming to terms with the majors on new media:
There's only so much ledge-prancing, saber-rattling, gun-pointing madness a person can get away with spinning in the press, and at a glance, anyway, it appears SAG national executive director Doug Allen may be faking the labor funk a little too aggressively. Now that his union's extended (and re-extended) negotiation period with the major studios is over, leaving AFTRA to step in and take everything it's offered no-questions-asked, Allen kvetched to Variety today that goddammit — they were so close! Like, just a few hours away! No, really. He actually said that:
While most of the civilized world enjoyed an early-spring weekend about town, SAG president and press warlord Alan Rosenberg practiced his saber-rattling in anticipation of upcoming labor negotiations with the studios. Despite reaching out to AFTRA to rejoin them in talks starting tomorrow, such token detente couldn't mitigate Rosenberg's resistance pledged against everyone from mutinous actors like Kevin Bacon and Charlie Sheen to penny-pinching producers. And at least one high-powered, face-saving source is urging the union to stand down or face certain doom.
In what could charitably called a polite preemptive blast against SAG and AFTRA, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers yesterday issued an open letter affirming its rightful position in the driver's seat of upcoming negotiations with the recently split actors unions. "Driver's seat" is probably also too kind; perhaps "bending its receivers over a barrel of new media revenues" is more like it:
Mere days after the meltdown of their negotiating partnership in upcoming labor talks with film and TV producers, SAG president Alan Rosenberg and AFTRA boss Ron Morgan appeared at a press conference Tuesday to proclaim their unity in the face of looming crisis — at least when it comes to walking 25 miles from Hancock Park to San Pedro:
There's nothing inherently sexy about the ongoing labor disputes between producers and writers, producers and directors, producers and actors and whatever other banal kerfuffles you care to conjure. But the SAG/AFTRA square-off pitting actors against producers and themselves is quite a tentpole-ready disaster in the making, setting up a showdown that could torch yet another slate of projects on Hollywood's horizon:
· HBO shakes things up in their original series development department, moving longtime president Carolyn Strauss into a new, not-quite-fired-but-let's- see-what-some-new-blood- can-do-about- never-letting- John From Cincinnati -happen-again position. [Variety]
· Hollywood StrikeWatch 2: The Bickering. SAG and AFTRA can't seem to decide whether basic cable should be included in the upcoming actors negotiation, leading to a flurry of strongly worded letters and "near-constant sniping" between the two unions, who'll ultimately air out their differences in a choreographed rumble in the Farmers Market parking lot, set to the music of Leonard Bernstein. [Variety]
· Marvel Studios has sold the exclusive broadcast rights to FX for a package of five of their movies, including the upcoming Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, along with three more, yet-to-be-determined titles. (We're pulling for a She-Hulk Vs. She-Thing, starring Rachel Bilson and Mischa Barton.) [Variety]