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Hollywood actors cut deal with indie studio

Talks with majors just getting under way

Last Updated: Thursday, April 17, 2008 | 6:23 PM ET

The Screen Actors Guild has just begun contract talks with the major Hollywood studios, but has already cut a side deal with independent producers.

The deal would let its members work for The Film Department, which has nine films on the go, even if there is an actors' strike in early summer.

The actors' union's contract with the studios expires June 30.

 "What's thrilling is SAG is willing to keep their members working and allow us to keep making movies and not get caught in a dispute with the big guys," said Mark
Gill, The Film Department's chief executive officer.

"We're the mice running between the elephants' feet and it's good not to get stepped on," he added.

On Tuesday, SAG began talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Artists, which represents Disney, Warner Bros., Sony, Paramount and Universal.

SAG has said publicly it hopes for better terms on compensation for electronic rights than the Hollywood screenwriters won after their strike this winter.

SAG had no comment on the talks so far, but it is believed to be offering side deals only to independent studios.

During the three-month writers strike, the Writers Guild cut side deals with independent studios that let its members work and indies resume filming.

The current round of negotiations is to last until April 26.

The studios start talks with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists on April 28.

The Rebound, starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, is a Film Department production scheduled to begin shooting Monday in New York City.

With files from the Associated Press
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