EXCLUSIVE: With 54 hours to go before SAG-AFTRA’s current contract with the studios expires on June 30, both sides are considering extending their negotiations until next week or slightly later.
That extension could run until July 7, we are hearing from multiple sources.
Stakes are extremely high at this point between both parties, particularly in the wake of a strident letter signed by 1,000-plus high-profile actors including union president Fran Drescher that went public this week. Signed by the likes of Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, Julia Louis Dreyfus, Amy Schumer and more, the letter from the thespians says that they’re “prepared to strike” if the guild doesn’t “get all the way there” in its talks with studios and streamers.
SAG-AFTRA "Prepared To Strike" Letter Hits 1,000 Signatures, Including Guild President Fran Drescher
In that context, an extension can be viewed as a positive thing for the time being, regardless of the end game, insiders tell us. However, the public release of the letter from the actors, which has grown from 300 signatures to over 1,000 in less than a day, has definitely changed-up the talks vibe from ‘rosy’ to ‘complicated’, says a well positioned-source.
Another source tells Deadline that that the purpose of the possible extension is “so that everyone gets past the holiday.” For those of you without a calendar, this weekend is an extended weekend because of the July 4th holiday falling on Tuesday.
An extension is almost a tradition in talks between the studios and the actors’ union. In both 2014 and 2017, negotiations went past the end of contract deadline into early July.
With the WGA now in their 58th day of striking, feature and TV production is already slowing down, and a strike by actors would bring all shoots to a standstill worldwide. There are several feature productions racing to make it over the line before an actors strike goes into effect, should that occur, i.e. Beetlejuice 2, Bad Boys 4, Minecraft among many other titles.
Under a media blackout with SAG-AFTRA during talks, the AMPTP had no comment today on any extension. The union did not respond for request to comment.
Following the now six week-striking Writers Guild, and the DGA, who affirmed their deal with the studios last week, SAG-AFTRA began bargaining with the AMPTP on June 7. Led by Drescher, and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the actors union went into those talks armed with a strike authorization of almost 98% from their members. While an extension can take off some of the pressure, the fact is “a strike can not be taken off the table until the final talks break down,” an industry source bluntly says today.
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