Hollywood's Actors Delay Screwing Selves Over Pennies

It looks like the actors are coming to their senses. The Screen Actors Guild and the Hollywood studios agreed to extend their contact talks until Tuesday (the deadline for a deal had been today). In addition, the actors have backed down on DVD revenues to a 15% increase from their earlier demand for a 100% raise.

As we’ve learned from the writers strike, and from the studios’ deal with Apple, the studios would rather stop production and call it a year before giving ground on the DVD revenue. So this one’s really about digital, which is really about pennies.

What do the actors want in digital? The studios say the actors want 70 changes to the new media formula agreed-to by the writers and directors. That’s probably spin. SAG has not detailed its demands but it is reported to want to reduce the 17-day “promotional” window in which the studios can use TV and film online without paying residuals, and to reduce the amount the studios can spend on original Internet productions before the union contract kicks in. Both seem reasonable, but nothing to call a strike over.

The bottom line here is the money at stake over the three year life of this deal is minuscule, and the actors would hurt their position far worse by walking out than by living with the deal negotiated by the WGA, and then reloading for the next deal in three years.

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