Our long, national nightmare is over — the actors have a contract! Was that too dramatic? Well, melodrama is fitting given how long it’s taken the Screen Actors Guild and the Hollywood studios to come to terms and sign a deal. Last night, SAG voted overwhelmingly to accept the most recent contract offered by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, ending the almost year-long back-and-forth between the two.
Roughly 35 percent of the union’s 110,000 members cast ballots, with 78 percent voting yes. The new deal gives actors a 3 percent wage increase, with another 3.5 percent bump in a year. The new contract also covers material created for new media, which was a sticking point that helped kick off this whole drawn-out negotiation in the first place, and includes residuals for ad-supported movies and TV shows streamed online.
The new deal went into effect at 12:01 this morning and expires in 2011 along with the other guild contracts from the writers, directors and the sister actor’s guild, AFTRA.
While Hollywood can breathe a sigh of relief since a strike has been averted, to quote the Carpenters, things have only just begun for SAG. Disputes over whether to accept this contract offer caused a major rift within the union. Stephen Diamond, an associate law professor at Santa Clara University, told The New York Times that. “The internal divide within the Guild will quickly become an issue again, first in the fall national elections and then again in the preparations for the 2011 contract negotiations[.]” Well, when you get a bunch of actors together, there’s bound to be drama.