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Hollywood Studios, Actors Agree to Last-Minute Federal Mediation to Avoid Strike

Hollywood actors and major film and television studios were scrambling to avoid a possible strike July 12 by meeting with federal mediators for last-minute contract talks.

Negotiations between the actors, represented by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), and an alliance of studios have been ongoing since June 7 and were set to expire at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.

The actors’ guild was unsure if an agreement could be reached, according to a statement issued by SAG-AFTRA.

“We are committed to the negotiating process and will explore and exhaust every possible opportunity to make a deal, however, we are not confident that the employers have any intention of bargaining toward an agreement,” the guild said in the statement.

The studio alliance, a trade organization representing about 350 members, would not comment on negotiations, citing a media blackout agreed to by both sides.

The industry news magazine Variety, however, published an exclusive article July 11 detailing meetings between studio executives calling for the mediation.

According to the article, the two sides remain at odds over several issues, including streaming residuals paid to actors and others involved in making TV shows and movies, increases in minimum rates paid to actors for daily or weekly work, and the use of artificial intelligence.

SAG-AFTRA claimed the article was leaked by studio executives before the union was aware of the mediation request.

“We will not be manipulated by this cynical ploy to engineer an extension when the companies have had more than enough time to make a fair deal,” SAG-AFTRA said in the statement.

The actors’ guild, which represents about 160,000 actors, announcers, broadcast journalists, dancers, DJs, news writers, and other artists, voted June 7 to authorize a strike. Its contracts were extended for 12 days starting June 30 and now expire at midnight.

If negotiations fail, SAG-AFTRA, Hollywood’s largest union, would join the industry’s writers on the picket lines. The Writers Guild of America (WGA) walked out May 2 after negotiations with the alliance broke down.

Hollywood has not experienced a double strike since 1960, when the Writer’s Guild and Screen Actors Guild stopped working during a dispute over motion picture payments, or residuals. The strike lasted 22 weeks, according to the WGA.

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