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SAG, AFTRA Tentatively OK Early Contract Talks to Avoid Shutdown

Hollywood’s two major acting unions have tentatively agreed to conduct early contract talks with producers in an effort to avoid a crippling production shutdown that has been threatened for next spring by the studios.

The Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, pending approval of their joint boards in the East on Thursday, said they will put together a comparatively small package of proposals and begin a 12-day negotiation period beginning Jan. 27 with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. A more complete package will be negotiated in May.

SAG President Barry Gordon told a national membership meeting Sunday in Universal City that the move shows that his union is not looking for a strike.

“We are more than willing to explore any innovative method which would prevent not only a strike, but also the de facto shutdown that occurs several months before the expiration of the contract and brings unnecessary uncertainty and fear to an already troubled industry,” Gordon said.

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SAG’s contract expires June 30. Among the key issues will be whether SAG will win representation for West Coast extras.

In other action Sunday, Oscar-winning actor Burt Lancaster was named the 28th recipient of SAG’s Achievement Award for “fostering the finest ideals of the acting profession.” Actor Kirk Douglas gave the award to Susie and Joanna Lancaster, the recipient’s wife and daughter respectively. Lancaster is recuperating from a stroke and did not attend.


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