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It seems nothing is simple when it comes to SAG/AFTRA relations these days. When I last reported on these guilds, it appeared that the SAG/AFTRA contract talks with the AMPTP could start as soon as the week of March 31st. But on Friday, SAG national executive director Doug Allen sent a letter (see below) to his AFTRA counterpart, Kim Roberts Hedgpeth. Now AFTRA is telling the press that Allen is muddying the waters. While SAG has accused AFTRA of throwing mud at it. My reaction is that AFTRA’s readiness to squabble with SAG (although some see it as vice versa) aids the Hollywood CEOs, not the actors:

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AFTRA’s response to press inquiries about Doug Allen’s letter:

“AFTRA asked SAG for a simple, unambiguous written response to President Reardon that stated its commitment to bargain jointly under the Phase One agreement with no changes, conditions, or extraneous issues attached. We are still waiting. In what can only be interpreted as an intentional effort to distract from the priority of the primetime negotiations, the letter from Doug Allen sent late Friday once again raised extraneous issues. As we have noted before and discussed at length, the application of the Phase One agreement in basic cable is a complex matter raising legal and practical issues, which we are open to addressing after the primetime television negotiations are completed and a contract has been ratified. Further, it is disturbing that SAG has failed to confirm in writing a commitment to not hold a referendum to alter or terminate Phase One in the midst of negotiations — an omission that raises questions as to the reliability of SAG’s commitment to conclude the W&W process and negotiations under the Phase One process as originally written and practiced since 1981. AFTRA has previously confirmed in writing its commitment to proceed expeditiously to conclude the W&W process and negotiate jointly with SAG, and we are disappointed that SAG has not done the same. AFTRA’s members remain solely focused on pursuing a successful contract negotiation that serves the needs and desires of all members in a timely fashion.”

Editor-in-Chief Nikki Finke - tip her here.