SAG-AFTRA & Studios Set More Contract Talks For Friday; “Cautious Optimism” Motto Of The Day

EXCLUSIVE: SAG-AFTRA’s chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said it on the picket lines earlier Thursday, and now it seems that “cautious optimism,” as an insider also characterized it today, has become the takeaway term for the state of talks between the actors guild and the studios.

In that vein, SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP have agreed to meet again Friday, after negotiations today that ended after almost five hours.

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With no direct talks Wednesday, the gist of today’s deliberations was SAG-AFTRA’s response to the AMPTP’s most recent offer of increased bonuses based on the success of streaming shows and movies and a rise in minimum rates. Using their hard-fought deal with the Writers Guild as a baseline, the studios had put forth a 7% increase in minimums. It is understood that SAG-AFTRA, which has been discussing an 11% rise, recognized the tactical heft of the move and offered a compromise that lessened the gap between the two.

Having “evolved,” as one guild source put it, its revenue-sharing demand, a studio source said the ideas the guild countered with Thursday are “something we can work with.”

That could be a good-ish sign as SAG-AFTRA has been on strike for 105 days now. With production at a standstill, and 2024 scheduling looking shaky for both movies and TV, the summer of Hollywood strikes had cost the economy of Southern California an estimated $6.5 billion and the loss of 45,000 jobs.

Still, not wanting to put the cart before the horse, another studio source tells Deadline that “nothing was resolved” in the room today.

A SAG-AFTRA spokesperson told Deadline today, “SAG-AFTRA declines to comment due to our ongoing negotiations and deep focus on negotiating in good faith to secure a fair deal for SAG-AFTRA members.” (Update 9:35 pm – The guild may have declined to comment, but they had this to tell their 160,000-members later in the evening, confirming Deadline’s exclusive: “Today, we passed a comprehensive counter across the table to the CEOs and while talks for the day have ended, our committee just completed working internally tonight.We are scheduled to meet across the table again tomorrow. In solidarity and gratitude, – Your TV/Theatrical Negotiating Committee” )

Still, having taken a step back from scheduled deliberations earlier this week “to do a deep review” of the latest AMPTP proposal, president Fran Drescher, Crabtree-Ireland and other guild leaders were back at the bargaining table today for a second day of this latest round of talks. As was the case with the final days of WGA talks and SAG-AFTRA negotiations earlier this month, they were joined by Disney’s Bob Iger, NBCUniversal’s Donna Langley, Warner Bros Discovery’s David Zaslav and Netflix’s Ted Sarandos along with AMPTP president Carol Lombardini.

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, Fran Drescher, Ted Sarandos, Bob Iger, David Zaslav & Donna Langley
(L-R) Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, Fran Drescher, Ted Sarandos, Bob Iger, David Zaslav and Donna Langley

With that noted, and the return of the doom-and-gloom chorus from sidelined industry doyens, today’s meeting between the CEOs and the SAG-AFTRA negotiating committee at the guild’s Wilshire Boulevard headquarters did get off to a later-than-usual start, starting around noon PT to sync up everyone’s schedules.

Facing a slightly open morning, SAG-AFTRA’s Crabtree-Ireland took the opportunity to jump out on to the picket line at Paramount to march with members. Stating he was “cautiously optimistic,” he also told Deadline that “we’re 100% focused on making a fair deal at the table.”

Looks like everyone that matters in seeing this strike end is going to be at that table, at least for one more day.

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