Deal alleviates actors' strike fears

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After the recent writers' work stoppage and the resulting mess it made, no one in Hollywood wants to even hear the word "strike." Unfortunately, the threat of another walkout looms, this time by television and film actors.

However, one of the major unions that represent actors took a major step toward avoiding another Tinseltown blackout, and now it's up to the other to follow suit to keep things humming along.

The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) early today reached a deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP, remember them?), retooling the current contract and tacking on three more years. Like the deals made by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Directors Guild of America (DGA), much of the points were focused on revenue from new media: Internet sales, streams, and promotion of television shows and films.

"This is another groundbreaking agreement for AFTRA," AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon said in a statement. "In addition to achieving meaningful gains in compensation and working conditions for performers, it also establishes AFTRA jurisdiction in the dynamic area of new media and it preserves performers' consent for use of excerpts of traditional TV shows in new media."

But the deal doesn't mean that all is rosy in television. AFTRA covers only a small sample of primetime shows, including Rules of Engagement, Cashmere Mafia, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Flight of the Conchords, 'Til Death, Reaper, and Dante's Cove, as well as the upcoming projects Roman's Empire, Project Gary, and Harper's Island.

SAG is up next at the table, and some think that AFTRA's deal puts pressure on SAG to come to a similar agreement. Part of making that deal may mean that SAG will have to back down from some of its demands, most notably in the DVD-sales area. Notable gains in DVD sales were not a factor in any of the WGA, DGA, and AFTRA deals.

"We appreciate the support we received from the Hollywood labor community, and we wish our brothers and sisters in the Screen Actors Guild the very best as they resume their own contract talks," Reardon added.

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