After an unexpected postponement, SAG-AFTRA and Hollywood studios made some steady progress toward a new deal during talks on Thursday afternoon, according to studio-side insiders with knowledge of the talks.
The insiders said talks are expected to continue on Friday, though that won’t be confirmed until the guild makes such an announcement in a memo to members. A representative for the guild declined to comment, citing SAG-AFTRA’s “deep focus on bargaining in good faith to secure a fair deal.”
The SAG-AFTRA negotiating committee met with AMPTP president Carol Lombardini and the quartet of CEOs that have been involved with labor talks — Disney’s Bob Iger, NBCUniversal’s Donna Langley, Warner Bros. Discovery’s David Zaslav and Netflix’s Ted Sarandos — a bit later on Thursday than usual due to schedule conflicts.
The guild’s national executive director and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland appeared prior to the start of talks at the Paramount picket line Thursday morning alongside rap star Kurtis Blow, who was offering his support to SAG-AFTRA alongside his labor organizing group Hip Hop Alliance.
Once talks began though, one studio insider tells TheWrap that some progress was made on the key issues of streaming compensation and minimum rate increases, though a final agreement has yet to be reached.
On Wednesday, SAG-AFTRA asked AMPTP to postpone their scheduled talks to allow for more time to go over the studios’ latest proposal. Should talks continue Friday, the pace of negotiations will have accelerated to a daily rate rather than every other day from when talks were held from Oct. 2-11.
That’s not surprising given that the already high sense of urgency among studios to get a deal done has increased even further, as insiders say there are fears that the 2023-24 TV season cannot be salvaged if a contract isn’t reached in the next two weeks. Sources say that some films set for release in 2024 may also have to be moved if a deal isn’t reached soon, as was the case for Paramount’s “Mission: Impossible 8” earlier this week.
Prior to the start of talks, insiders on both sides told TheWrap that even in the best case scenario, a tentative agreement would require days of negotiations to be reached. Along with streaming and minimum rates, a series of actor-specific issues that cover a wide range of performers represented by SAG-AFTRA still need to be finalized.
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