SAG And AMPTP To Meet: Strike PR Battle Begins

Screen Actors Guild
Screen Actors Guild

Today at 2 p.m. pacific the Screen Actors Guild and the AMPTP (the producers association) are meeting to discuss the "Last Best Offer" the AMPTP made hours before SAG's contract expired at 12:01 Tuesday morning.

Today the two sides are meeting to discuss the details of the deal. The AMPTP has said it's not entertaining counter-offers, but I'm waiting for some sort of PR statement. Yesterday I blogged about what's likely to happen, but here Jonathan Handel (you may recognize him from many of my segments on labor conflict) lays out details of the potential outcomes.

Underlying all of this labor brouhaha is the conflict between the two guilds, SAG, and its smaller and ostensibly less powerful sibling guild, AFTRA. Those two associations are locked in mortal PR combat, which is quite a sport out here in Hollywood. SAG has just hired high-powered strategic communications firm Sitrick and Company to help as it negotiations with AMPTP. And AFTRA has PR firm 42 West on its team.

Meanwhile the AMPTP has been running ads in the Hollywood trade publications, Variety and the Hollywood Reporter. With the big headline "A Clear Choice," the association that represents the big Hollywood studios lays out why it makes sense for SAG to make a deal and avoid a strike. With the tagline, "Let's Keep Working" the AMPTP is doing a full court press to get the rest of Hollywood to pressure SAG members to avoid a strike.

Now SAG hasn't even asked for a vote to authorize a strike, so this seems a bit pre-emptive. Industry blogger Nikki Finke calls it "fear-mongering", I think the AMPTP just isn't taking any chances.

And since it's impossible to talk about "the industry" without mentioning movie stars, I can't resist but say where the big money makers land. There's a camp of actors that believes that the deal that AFTRA made is acceptable, it's led by Tom Hanks, Sally Field, Alec Baldwin and Kevin Spacey have recently been added to the list.

Meanwhile supporters of SAG's approach has added supporters including Jack Nicholson, Ben Stiller, Ed Harris, and Martin Sheen. SAG"s been running ads that say "A no vote means no and that's all it means," referring to AFTRA's vote on its proposed contract. But a no vote also means that SAG will have more leverage to push for more, making a strike more likely. I just think it'll be so hard for actors who make millions of dollars per picture to elicit sympathy on the picket lines, so I'm curious to see how this all plays out.

Questions? Comments?