November 23, 2008 in Nation/World

Actors union edges closer to strike against studios

Los Angeles Times

HOLLYWOOD – In a move that ups the ante in the stalemate between actors and the studios over a new labor contract, the Screen Actors Guild has decided to pursue a strike authorization vote from its 120,000 members.

The decision came early Saturday morning after two days of mediation failed to bridge deep differences between the sides over how actors should be paid for work that is distributed over the Internet. Actors have been working without a contract since June 30.

Although a last-minute breakthrough is still possible, the actors and the studios now look to be inching closer to a costly showdown that would have seemed remote only a month ago.

Despite a rapidly deteriorating economy and the widespread acknowledgment that an actors’ strike could cripple Hollywood’s production industry, the actors union appears emboldened to put the studios on the defensive.

Among the chief stumbling blocks is the guild’s demand for jurisdiction over all shows created for the Web, regardless of budget. The studios said that would constrain their ability to experiment in new media, and instead proposed limiting contracts only to shows above certain budget levels or when professional actors are hired.

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