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SAG, studios extend talks one week

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The Screen Actors Guild and major Hollywood studios have agreed to extend their contract talks another week in a sign that the two sides are making some, albeit limited, headway in their negotiations toward a new three-year agreement.

Studios had initially planned to begin negotiations with SAG's sister union, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, this coming Monday if they couldn't hammer out a new agreement with SAG after two weeks of negotiations.

But on Wednesday the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the studios, notified its member companies that it had asked AFTRA to postpone the start of its negotiations "because we owe it to our entire industry to give the current . . . talks every opportunity to result in an agreement."

Since they began nearly two weeks ago, the talks have been far less rancorous than last year's negotiations with writers, which ultimately broke down and triggered a 100-day walkout that ended in February.

Still, there are deep differences between the parties, fueling fears that Hollywood could be faced with another, potentially more costly, walkout that would shut down movie and television production. Actors are seeking substantially better pay terms than what writers and directors negotiated, including a demand to double the compensation they currently receive from DVD sales.

"At this time there remain significant gaps between the two parties and we hope to use the extra time to narrow these gaps," the studio alliance said in a statement on its website.

richard.verrier@latimes.com

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