SAG, AFTRA ready to make up

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Hollywood’s squabbling actors unions appear to be ready to bury the hatchet.

It’s been almost two years since the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists broke off its 27-year bargaining pact with the Screen Actors Guild, with whom it waged turf battles, including a tiff over the CBS soap “The Bold and the Beautiful.”

But Sunday, a key committee of AFTRA is expected to recommend to its national board that the union resume joint bargaining with SAG for prime-time TV contracts, people familiar with the situation said. Combining forces would strengthen the unions’ bargaining clout against the studios, guild officials believe.

Frosty relations between the unions have thawed since a moderate coalition of actors gained power on SAG’s board and vowed to push for a merger of the unions. SAG’s new president, Ken Howard, made ending the feud a key point in his campaign and has talked with AFTRA chief Roberta Reardon about mending relations.


Though a merger of the two actors unions is not on the immediate horizon, representatives on both sides are paving the way toward restoring joint bargaining, which nonetheless remains unpopular among some actors in Hollywood.

If the boards of both unions agree, joint early negotiations on a new contract with the studios would begin in October. The sides agreed to early talks for the next round of bargaining even though SAG’s contract doesn’t expire until 2011.

Because the timing would conflict with another contract -- one covering actors who work in daytime television -- that AFTRA must negotiate by Nov. 15, the union is expected to either accelerate those talks or seek an extension so it can negotiate at a later time.