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SAG Stalemate Update
Here's the latest with the actors:Variety reports that the major studios are prepping "40 or more" films to go into production starting this coming spring, so that they'll have product for 2010 and 2011. Although there's the risk of a strike starting this year and continuing through the spring, there's also the certainty that if they don't start production, they'll have no product in the pipeline come 2010.
Implicit in the story is the assumption that production intended for 2009 release is complete. It's unclear to me if this is true. Earlier reports, if I recall correctly, had suggested that summer 2009 was ok but that fall 2009 was not. Also, remember that the studios and networks claimed during the run up to the writers strike that they had banked enough TV scripts to not be affected quickly by the strike. That turned out to be spin, as shows started going dark earlier than predicted -- a month or so into the strike, if memory serves. So it's unclear if some of this is spin.
Next news is likely to come next weekend (Oct. 18-19), when the SAG national board meets. Items on the agenda will include whether to send a strike authorization referendum to the members. Possible also will be discussion of whether to change or dissolve the negotiating committee and future of the National Executive Director, Doug Allen. I don't know whether these latter two items will indeed be brought up, but it's logical.
If an authorization does get sent out (which I think is a distinct possibility), the earliest that results would come in would be mid-November. A strike would then require a vote of the board. That, in turn, would require a special meeting, I believe. Thus, I wouldn't expect a strike at the earliest until sometime after that -- perhaps December, in light of the Thanksgiving holiday at the end of November. Or, SAG might try to reopen negotiations, then strike in January, after the holidays. A nice way to begin the new year perhaps?
It's astonishing to think that SAG might strike during what analysts increasingly consider the worst economy in 80 years, but it's possible. The hardline Membership First faction and SAG leadership are itching for a strike to dislodge the studios' refusal to give on new media, and the moderates (the Unite for Strength faction, plus the New York and most/all regional board members) have been silent so far. It's unclear how the latter group will handle the board discussion in two weeks regarding a strike authorization.