18 Apr 2009

Actors, Hollywood studios reach deal

1:57 pm on 18 April 2009

Hollywood studios and the largest US actors union have reached a tentative deal on a new film and television contract that ends a bitter deadlock and would avert a strike.

In a joint statement, the two sides the actors' union board would look at the deal and, if approved, it would be put to a vote of union members. An entertainment lawyer said the vote might not occur until late May.

The Screen Actors Guild with its 120,000 members and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents movie studios, gave no details of the agreement.

Months of often rancorous talks broke down over issues including how much actors should be paid for work delivered by new media, including the internet and mobile phones, which are seen as a vital future distribution outlet.

Reuters reports a new contract would would not be retroactive, which would mean union members losing tens of millions of dollars in pay hikes they would have earned had the union accepted the studios' offer last June.

Film production has slowed in Hollywood due to labor uncertainty and the recession, and experts said a deal should pave the way for some increase in moviemaking.

Hollywood has feared a rerun of the 2007/2008 writers strike that crippled most television production and cost the Los Angeles-area economy an estimated $US3 billion.