Opting for a low-key approach amid the town's fears of a strike, the Screen Actors Guild and the majors have launched feature-primetime negotiations with a minimum of fanfare -- in sharp contrast to last year's incendiary WGA talks, Variety reports.


Bargaining began Tuesday morning at AMPTP headquarters with the official presentation of proposals. SAG and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers issued a brief statement in the late afternoon, disclosing only that talks would resume this morning.

The two sides have not agreed to a news blackout, but plan to limit their disclosure to jointly issued end-of-the-day statements for the next two weeks.


Although these plans may change if talks become contentious, the main hope behind the strategy is to avoid the bitter back-and-forth attacks that dominated WGA negotiations before and during the writers strike. Even before the first WGA bargaining sessions began in mid-July, both sides had been blasting each other's positions; once the talks started, the accusations became only more vehement and vituperative.


The start of the SAG talks comes on the heels of a bruising battle with sister union the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists over jurisdiction and strategy.


On Monday, AFTRA spurned a last-minute invite from SAG to rejoin it at the bargaining table under terms of the 1981 Phase One partnership, with AFTRA asserting it can no longer trust SAG leaders due to a dispute over possible decertification of "The Bold and the Beautiful." So Tuesday's session represented the first time in 27 years that SAG and AFTRA have not negotiated together on the contract.


There's still plenty of potential for the guild negotiations to veer off track. The congloms have insisted SAG's going to have to accept terms similar to those in the WGA and DGA pacts signed earlier this year; SAG president Alan Rosenberg has been explicit that the guild must get a boost in DVD residuals and improvements in the new-media portions of the WGA and DGA deals.

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