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SAG And Hollywood: Will There Really Be Another Strike?

Hollywood
Hollywood

SAG's contract with the AMPTP (the producers association) expires tonight at midnight.

On the heels of the writers' guild strike that cost the Los Angeles economy billions, the last thing Hollywood needs is another strike, especially an actors' strike that could really cripple an industry already going through too much turmoil.

But hold on. The contract expiring doesn't mean actors are hitting the picket lines tomorrow. Hardly, as an actual strike is a ways off. SAG members would have to get 75 percent of its 120,000 members to approve a strike and SAG leadership haven't looked for that authorization yet.

For now, the two sides are expected to continue talking July 8, when SAG's sister union AFTRA announces the results of the ratification vote on the deal AFTRA struck with the AMPTP. We spoke to the president of AFTRA this morning, and she says she absolutely expects their deal to be ratified. And since 44,000 of SAG's members are also members of AFTRA, if the deal is approved by a huge margin, that would be a good sign that SAG members don't want to hit the picket lines.

Even without an official strike, it's anything but business as usual. TV productions are rushing along at breakneck pace, frantically trying to shoot as many episodes as possible before a potential strike, working long hours that can't be cheap. Meanwhile the big studios film production has ground to a halt. It's so expensive--and takes so long--to start up and shut down film production that the big six studios are for the most part sitting back and waiting.

With the exception of a few big movies shooting right now, the big five studios are playing it safe which means that thousands of people who benefit from the business a film production generates are already hurting. A couple hundred independent producers have gotten waivers from SAG, which means even if a strike happens movies will continue to be shot but the local economy will look a lot different.

My sources are hopeful this negotiation will end without an official strike. But everyone's also telling me that the longer this lasts without an official conclusion, the more millions of dollars will be lost. AFTRA made some real gains in their negotiations, a lot of people in the LA area, even those who aren't a part of either of the opposing groups, are hoping that SAG will be willing to compromise.

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  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.