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June 24, 2008

Hollywood's Slow-Go

The LA Times' Claudia Eller and Richard Verrier have a story today that pulls together what I've been hearing for weeks, namely that work in Hollywood has crawled to a near-halt in anticipation of a possible actor's strike. Green-lighting has dwindled to a trickle, and the creative community across the board is tightening its belt, seeing the dreaded signs reminiscent of the writers guild strike that just ended months ago. Actors tell me there are precious few auditions going on, and writers and directors are embracing the "staycation" instead of making plans to go to Europe. The Screen Actors Guild contract with Hollywood's major studios expires at the end of this month, and few believe that there will be a resolution by that time. The secondary acting guild, the American Federation of Television and Radio Actors (AFTRA), has reached a new contract; its members need to vote on whether to stand with SAG or ratify the agreement. Will there be a strike? No one, but no one is in the mood. The membership will have to decide whether to follow in the footsteps of the writers guild, a standoff that caused tens of millions of dollars of economic dislocation, and resulted in extremely hard-to-define gains. Or they must choose to continue working without a contract, not a very strong position from which to bargain. Either way, the movie and tv producers continue to have disproportionate clout in this battle. They are preparing to wait it out and protect their bottom lines.


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