Actors Harry Belafonte, Philip Seymour-Hoffman and Joe Piscopo joined the rank and file actors and voice over artists from the Screen Actors Guild in a picket line in front of BBD&O Advertising at Sixth Avenue and 53rd St., Sept. 21.
Later this afternoon, the union demonstrators will move to an even more familiar roost, the sidewalk in front of the Crown Plaza Hotel on Broadway between W. 48 and W. 49 Streets.
There, inside the Crown Plaza, the full negotiating teams from SAG and AFTRA are continuing commercial contract talks with the producers of television and radio commercials. Also on the table is the subject of commercials on the Internet, which the union wants to include in its purview.
As reported earlier, the actors have three essential goals in these negotiations—holding the line on their existing television royalty structure, bringing rates for the now mature cable industry on a par with traditional broadcasts and establishing union jurisdiction over commercials on the Internet. The actors are said to have submitted a proposal on cable late last week (or early this week), and the commercial producers are reportedly more receptive than earlier this summer when talks collapsed for several weeks. The commercial producers had indicated privately that they would be striking a deal with the actors.
Trade reports suggest a certain level of optimism this week with some going so far as to predict a breakthrough by the end of the coming weekend. One union spokesperson suggested that some progress must be taking place if only because the groups have been in discussion for seven consecutive business days.
-- By Murdoch McBride