Actors march as contract talks resume

WILSHIRE DISTRICT Hundreds of actors rallied in front of the Screen Actor's Guild headquarters on Wilshire Boulevard.

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"We can't get a foothold in this new media, I swear to God in 10 or 15-years actors like me will cease to exist. We'll become hobbyists. We'll have to get other jobs to support our acting habit. And that's what is at stake here, the survival of the acting profession and the survival of the Screen Actor's Guild," said SAG President Alan Rosenberg.

Actors are negotiating again with the alliance of studios and producers. SAG says there are a number of issues including, more money for middle class actors and jurisdiction over new media.

"So if we don't have a good grid for new media, I don't even know how we can still call it new media, nobody will be able to make any money in this business," said actress Justine Bateman.

At the rally, it was a show of union solidarity, members of the Writers' Guild were there to show their support. But SAG is directing some of its anger to its sister union AFTRA, which also represents some actors.

The two unions usually worked together when negotiating contracts, but this time AFTRA went on its own and on May 28 it came to a quick agreement with the producers and studios.

"If you have two contracts out there with different terms where are the employers going to go? They will go with the cheaper contract and that's our fear -- especially since that's my own union that made that deal and they put me in conflict with myself," said Rosenberg.

Rosenberg is one of 44,000 actors who are members of both unions and SAG is urging them and others to vote down the AFTRA contract.

"Letting Internet go without union participation, I think that's sacrilege," said actor Ed Asner.

"The two actors unions had been negotiating together. For the first time they broke off and they're negotiating separately and you're weak when you are divided," said actor George Takei.

AFTRA has about 70,000 members, including actors, singers, announcers and journalists. The Screen Actors Guild has about 120,000 members in movies, TV and other media.

Both AFTRA and SAG have said they want to avoid a repeat of the 100-day writers strike that ended in February. That walkout shut down production on dozens of TV shows and cost the Los Angeles-area economy an estimated $2.5 billion.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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