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The ABCs Of SAG: Do They Really Spell Strike?

Screen Actors Guild members and supporters rally in Los Angeles shortly before the union's contract was set to expire. The guild is pressing producers for new-media residuals, higher minimum rates for actors and better pensions.
Screen Actors Guild members and supporters rally in Los Angeles shortly before the union's contract was set to expire. The guild is pressing producers for new-media residuals, higher minimum rates for actors and better pensions. (By David Mcnew -- Getty Images)

So what do the actors want?

Same things. Specifically, SAG wants "significant increases" in the minimum rates paid to actors in minor and major roles, including those performing stunts and serving as "background" (commonly called the extras). They want the studios to contribute more to their health insurance and pensions, give them a sweeter cut on DVD sales, increase their reimbursements for mileage and pay residuals for all new media.

Good luck. Isn't all this uncertainty hurting the industry?

The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. estimated that the writers' strike cost the county $2.5 billion in lost income. A lot of TV executives (and writers and talent) think that the strike hurt their scripted television shows, as viewers turned to other fare, such as reality programming.

So what about me, the audience member?

Films take a few years to make and market, so the SAG negotiations will not impact the summer, fall and holiday film schedule. With the interruption from the writers' strike behind them but with a SAG strike still a possibility, the movie studios long ago decided to push films to completion before the contract expired today. TV production has also been hot and heavy, but a strike by actors would disrupt schedules and shows. The smart money in Hollywood is that a strike will be avoided, but we'll stay tuned.


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